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Taking down the cards - a post of two halves - News from Nowhere [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
shewhomust

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Taking down the cards - a post of two halves [Jan. 7th, 2015|05:51 pm]
shewhomust
What with one thing and another, I never actually put out all the Christmas cards: the best of the early arrivals went on the mantelpiece, and the rest were heaped on the coffee table and the filing cabinet in the hall (it's red! that's Christmassy, isn't it!). Yesterday being Twelfth Night and / or Epiphany, I piled them up on the kitchen table, and started to write the post I had promised myself, so that I could at least enjoy looking through the cards as I put them away. I had thought this was something I do most years, except when I don't, but not so much: previous posts are 2007, 2008 and 2010. Categories as before, unless I decide otherwise; cards allocated, however arbitrarily, to one category, however many may actually apply (the editor's decision, however misguided, is final):
  • Snow scenes 23, comprising:
    • 4 photographs of countryside scenes, including one very pretty sunset (Oxfam card, photographer not credited)

    • 10 scenes of villages or small towns, of which one is a stylish and stylised silhouette (with bonus reindeer), a village pub (The Case is Altered, Bentley) and a village shop (labelled 'Friends of Moorfields Eye Hospital), a Salvation Army Band by the sea (from the Salvation Army, and no, I wasn't aware we were on card exchanging terms), two conventional village scenes, one with skating on frozen pond, one with snowman in the foreground, two snowmen, one the 'Raymond Briggs' version (complete with Snowdog, hence the quotation marks), one phonebox, one pillar box (with added glitter)

    • Other locations: Stonehenge in the snow (technically a Winter solstice card), a Hiroshige view of a temple in the snow, a photograph of Cullercoats (a barely subliminal suggestion of snow in this one)

    • two cities in the snow (Winchester and a particularly nice view of Edinburgh by Simon Parr)

    • Plus 3 city scenes which dispense with the snow altogether and rely for their effect on lights in the darkness: Louis Hubbard Grimshaw's view of Grainger Street (in the rain, if anything), the lights of Piccadilly and the Rathaus and Christmas market of Bremen.

  • Birds 8, of which 6 robins, one playing second fiddle to a very elegant lantern, one accompanied by a goose (both birds on skates); one miscellany of garden birds decorating a Christmas tree (includes a further robin) and one (and I quote) White Eye feeding in cherry blossom, by an unknown Chinese artist

  • Animals 17, mostly but not exclusively in the snow:
    • Includes photograph of a friend's new puppy, the statutory still-life with foxes (from the artist's mother), one striking design of deer silhouetted against a red sky on a snowy hilltop, with decorative plants in the foreground (which probably wins the prize for Hardest to Classify, not to mention Sounds As If It Shouldn't Work, But Does)

    • 5 sheep, of which 3 close-up portraits, in snow, one flock in fancy knitwear, one sheep in Wellington boots and red bobble hat (which is not actually a Father Christmas bonnet.

    • One card with 9 small pictures of animals in snow which includes one of the sheep pictures above; mostly UK - wildlife and pets - (red squirrel, robin, cat) but also includes polar bear and cubs

    • Polar bear and cubs, not that one but very similar.

    • A guinea pig in a Santa bonnet and an unidentifiable fluffy white animal (puppy baby seal?) wearing a Santa bonnet and captioned "Santa Paws!"

    • Random animals in snow: two copies of Nicola O'Byrne's 'Leaping Hare' (in this gallery as 'Hare Christmas Card', right at the bottom of the page), a bunch of cats gazing at a tree full of birds, a seal with baby and one badger by moonlight. On the basis thar any parent and child grouping can be regarded as related to the nativity, I hereby declare the badger the winner in the Animal Hitherto Least Regarded As Signifying Christmas category (it's a very nice badgerm but still...)

  • Trees 17 of which 8 can be identified as Christmas trees by their triangular shape, one because it is surrounded by the words "Oh Christmas tree..." (etc) and another 5 by their decorations (one of them is a palm tree under which Father Christmas has hung out his red stockings. It's been a good year for promotional / corporate cards, and this one is from Expedia). There's enough glitter in this group to sink a battleship, and three of the trees have actual gems stuck on them to boot - well, not actual gems, but distinctly protruding pieces of glass. Plus two Scandinavian / cut paper designs, and a general woodland scene (Clare Curtis's 'Coppicing'

  • In 2010 there were some 20 other plants; if I weren't referring back to that list, I probably wouldn't have thought of classifying this year's haul of 5 into a separate category: Margaret Brooker's apples (Great Expectations, apparently), Cézanne's 'Still Life with Aples and Oranges', some frosted berries, a wreath and some mistletoe.

  • I might, I suppose, have included cards whose main design is as much about the text as about any decoration: a card on which the repeated phrase 'Merry Christmas' is surrounded by sprigs of holly (and something that I'd have identified as a pair of pinecones, if the leaves weren't completely wrong), another on which the holly leaves surround the words "All I Want for Christmas is a Decent Job!" (from the TUC, an enclosing an invitation to become a Friend of the Durham Miners' Gala) and another four with less or no vegetable matter.

  • Likewise, I seem to have Baubles as a legacy category: that's one card showing fairies bearing stars and a single large bauble to decorate a couple of candy canes. I have nothing more to say on this topic.

  • Nativity Scenes: 9 in all, of which 3 mother and child, two vaguely old-master but unidentified, one stained glass (flanked by Aidan and Oswald, two north-eastern saints, but apparently from Chester Cathedral). Plus one which suggests the theme by showing a star, a dove and the wrd 'Peace' above the city, one family at the manger, one with magi approaching the stable, one with full cast (family, magi, shepherds, angels) and another which suggests the full story with a bare minimum of players: a single king sweeps majestically towards a single shepherd while in the background the star shines above a city, whose smallest building has a shaggy roof and a cavernous open door within which a triangular fleck might just be a manger. The year's the only circular card covers all the bases by showing multiple scenes (including the Flight into Egypt, which is unusual).

  • Only two Angels, but both good ones: one home-made, with doyley wings, and one with trumpet from Crawhall's Chap-book Chaplets (the Lit & Phil's offering this year, which I might well have chosen to send had I seen it at the right time).

  • Father Christmas and related: not counting the cute animals in red bonnets, we also have a red suit hanging above a steaming bath and 4 actual Santas: one vaguely Victorian, one riding a bike through snowy woods, one by J.R.R. Tolkien and one very glittery one consulting his list in front of a sleigh piled high with toys. Which is reason enough to put two more sleights here, though they are unaccompanied.

  • Christmas carols: As usual, although we have one 'I Saw Three Ships' and one 'Deck the Halls', it's all about the Twelve Days of Christmas: one partridge in a pear tree, one pair of turtle doves and 5 showing all twelve days.

  • And a wonderful haul of Miscellaneous cards, a description not be be seen as in any way dismissive (if only because this is where the majority of the home made cards end up): a bookshelf displaying appropriate titles (the RNLI sets a high standard for charity cards), a Christmas stocking designed by a primary school child (our MP organises an annual competition), a collection of bus tickets, a Roger la Borde steam engine, the frontispiece of a nineteenth century natural history book, a collage of slivers of bright paper, a net of tiny red beads and a still-life of small plastic toys and bizarre designer lamp (with the moon over Heaton in the background).

I counted 112 cards altogether, which explains why I didn't finish the survey before we went out to be told ghost stories as one last Christmas treat, and had to return to the job this afternoon. And now it's time to shake the glitter off my keyboard and go and curry something for dinner.
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Comments:
From: cmcmck
2015-01-07 05:54 pm (UTC)
We seemed to get an awful lot of snowpersons this year! :o)
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-07 09:45 pm (UTC)
Ah, so that's where they went!
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[User Picture]From: nipernaadiagain
2015-01-07 06:17 pm (UTC)
As a postcard fan, I love this post!

I MUST get to writing the post about the old Estonian cards with Christmas/New year goat! The only category I like more are the ones with astronauts (like this, this or this)

The favorite Christmas card bird in Estonia is blue tit, as these birds often knock on windowpanes in winter (so they are believed by children to be Santas spies, informing Santa are the children good enough to get some gifts or will there be a spanking from Santa instead)

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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-07 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the astronaut cards - they are very beautiful - I especially like the middle one, with the castle (? city?). I'd be happy to send these for my greetings cards.

I didn't know that about the blue tits - but yes, it makes sense!
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