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Postcards from the Pandemic XIII (Holiday Season 2020 Edition)

Holly Peace (from the RPS catalog), 2017

By Bobby Padilla

Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”

Well, here we are with the holidays upon us. Despite the diminished volume of neighborhood lights and unrelenting holiday advertising (as if nothing is wrong), we’re all making peace with celebrations like no other. For my family, it’ll be sparse and humble. We’ll forego our usual Christmas Eve Festivities at my Mom’s with select cousins and Aunts and Uncles. A pandemic sacrifice for the sake of protecting those older family elders, for which I’m a newly appointed member (being 50 and all). There will be food, libations and quiet moments around the tree and gifts, off course. However, this year’s celebration is obviously and understandably subdued, I don’t need to spell that out. We all have access to newsfeeds and the awful narrative and statistics. While a ray of light is visible on the horizon, (vaccine), it has come to late for some 300,000 mothers, fathers, grandparents, spouses, fiends and all other individuals that have ever occupied a room in our hearts. The solace is the promise that next years holiday season will be restored to normalcy. I imagine that when we toast to our health over the next couple weeks it will have a clear and resonate tone.

A Christmas Carol, 2019

By Gordon Bruce

Oil on canvas, 20" x 30"

I look towards 2021 with measured optimism. I’ve embraced the challenge of what the year will start like and will brace a stiff shoulder towards it. I look forward to the promise of spring whose symbolism, this particular year is more meaningful then anytime in my life. While I can dream about cold beers at the ballpark or warm summer nights listening to live music, I must, (we all must), make peace with the fact that may not be the case. With all things being equal, mass vaccine rollouts won’t be mobilized until March or April, meaning a cloudy complexion of next summer’s leisure time. I imagine that I will be wearing a mask to the grocery store while I shop for things to grill next spring. Just because there are vaccines available herd immunity isn’t a stable reality until probably the end of summer, I hope I’m wrong. Thus, protocols dictate masks, social distancing, etc. if we’re going to effectively eradicate COVID-19.

Winter Landscape, 1811

By Caspar David Friedrich

Oil on canvas, 24" x 32"

Perhaps business will resume at pace it was when this pandemic started, I can only hope, right? I know people miss celebrating and partying and are starved for making good memories with each other rather than adjustments to their proximity. By next Christmas we will rejoice the fact that things are close to normal. However, don’t kid yourself, while things will look normal, things will never be the same. Perhaps I’ll save that for a Postcards from the Pandemic epilogue.

Mystical Nativity, 1501

By Sandro Botticelli

Oil and tempra on canvas, 36" x 48"

I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person, but I do have a respect for those that have a devote faith. As a student of art history, religion was the driving force for some of the most beautiful art in humanity. From the Islamic temples like the Taj Mahal or El Hombre to the glistening Buddhist screens of the Far East to vaulted majesty of the Sistine Chapel, perhaps the magnum opus of Catholic art. Between the lines of all that splendor, lays the humble beginnings of everlasting stories of faith and man.

For a moment, let those miracles in. Suspend your beliefs and opinions and focus on the faith just for a second. I’m not talking baby in the manger or wandering the deserts kind of stuff, but the modest little cast of characters that depict the marvels of Christmas. The only miracle in my house this Christmas will be if my kids won’t spend all their time distracted on their phones with girlfriends. We will, at some point, Zoom those who we usually spend the holiday with, but mostly it’ll be just us. Mother, father and 2 adult children. No dolling up in the holiday finest, no pretense of appropriate valued gifts or perfectly cooked casseroles. Just the four of us along with a tray of cookies and creampuffs, a bottle of 16 yr. old Lagavulin and Fairytale of New York by the Pogues playing through the speakers. The living room will undoubtedly be covered with wrapping paper by 9 am on Christmas morning. It’s with that familiarity our holiday tradition survives the pandemic. That and the promise, hopefully, that we will never have another Christmas like this one again. So, to that end, I can live with a scaled back version of Christmas this year.

The Nativity, 1777

By John Singleton Copley

Oil on Canvas, 22" x 34"

That’s it, there’s not much else to say about arguably one of the worst years in our history. Just quiet moments reflecting on making it through this relatively unscathed, a deeper moment of pause for all those that didn’t, and a warm appreciation for those we have in our lives, even it’s on a computer monitor.

Here hoping you have a bright and joyous holiday season no matter where and how you should decide to spend it. Wishing peace and prosperity to all those small businesses like Roc Paint Sip that have struggled throughout. Go to bed Christmas eve not with dreams of sugarplums, but with graduation parties, outdoor summer concerts, ballgames, and of course, paint parties. Drift asleep to wondering if your sock drawer has room for masks you’ll hopefully never need again.

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