Art Studio and Life #37 featuring art and paintings

Hello lovely family and friends

I am currently reading ‘The Allegory of Love’ by C. S. Lewis, in which he gives fascinating snapshots of different western cultural trends through the centuries. We can be so steeped in the culture of our own age, like a fish in the water it swims in, that we don’t even realise that there are different ways of thinking from those which prevail where we live. Unless, of course, you have foreign friends, emigrate, read fantasy/sci fi, or get married, in which case, Mr Spock’s phrase comes in very useful: “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.”

Every marriage is a cross cultural marriage even if you marry someone ‘the same’ as you from next door. Each family has ‘The Right Way to Do Things.’ Which is fine until we marry someone who has a different ‘Right Way to Do Things.’ Then brace yourself for the Clash of the Titans. Early on in our marriage we discovered this over, wait for it, icing the Christmas cake. There was Drama, there were Tears, over this vitally important matter.

We used to do some pre-marriage counselling (when we lived in Botswana), and one delightful young couple explained that they thought the pre-marriage course would enable them to sort out all their issues before they got married, after which, they would live happily ever after (Disney has a lot to answer for). They were crestfallen when we explained that we were just teaching them how to argue kindly. As Mark Gungor put it, learning “how to be married and not kill anybody.” Or, learning how to combine two cultures and not kill anybody.

On the creative front, I have been planning a small renovation to enable us to run an Air BnB from our downstairs. So much fun! I am buying furniture, new and second-hand, and planning décor, discussing windows, doors, kitchenettes etc. I do love it!

Confession time: I have neither made this year’s Christmas cake, nor decorated the tree!! Sadness. The teenagers keep asking, “Why haven’t we put the tree up yet?” They do this as they are walking out the door to their next event. It’s going to be this weekend, even if It’s only me and my Mum doing it…

Please will you write and tell me what your different Christmas traditions are? E.g. My Dutch friend makes, and gifts Christmas tree ornaments to her friends every year. My German friend bakes and ices multiple Christmas biscuits which she packages and gives to friends on Christmas Eve. She also decorates every single room in her house with ornaments and fir tree branches. It’s all rather gorgeous. I had very few traditions of any kind growing up, and I love hearing about them, and trying to incorporate some of them in our lives. Not that I’ll be baking biscuits this year, since I am currently struggling just to get dinner on the table, but hope springs eternal…

So, this week, may we make Christmas cake/ (lavender)biscuits / pickles / decorations / chocolates / gluhwein! May you write and tell me your Christmas traditions! And may we find joy in finding gifts (however small) for those we love!

XX Barbie


  1. ABS (Bryden) Black

    Do you have handy armour large enough for a human …?!

    May 2024 bring goodly opportunities to raise the Vizor, not throw the gauntlet, and shake hands (question: what’s the origin of that gesture?)

    • Barbara Podmore

      MR Google might have to tell us the answer to the question…

  2. Daniel Button

    Growing up, we always opened our presents late evening on Christmas Eve. As an adult, I remember being shocked when I discovered that most people did NOT do that, but waited until Christmas Day! What? But that’s when you’re supposed to ENJOY the presents and play with them, not open them (apart from the stockings). I eventually discovered that was the German tradition. My mother’s family are fully German, but I had no idea that’s where it came from.
    Another odd tradition we learned from our neighbours was leaving out a Christmas cookie and milk for Santa Claus – and maybe a carrot for the reindeer. In the morning there was always a bite out of each. I wondered why he didn’t eat it all?
    We also used to make popcorn strings to hang on the tree rather than tinsel. Again, I thought everyone did that. I guess not.

    • Barbara Podmore

      Dan some of us (me) are keen to be German and open some gifts on Christmas eve, other staunch traditionalists don’t. They won.

  3. Chris Wilson

    Gosh I enjoyed your memes this week! And your delightful cat photo 🙂
    A Christmas tradition I can’t do this year because I am in Nelson with my Dad, but which I often do, is organise volunteer carollers to go singing carols to some of the frail and elderly from our church. We have been in rest homes, on people’s decks so all the neighbours wonder what is going on, and even hospital wards over the years. Nearly always there are tears from at least one recipient. It’s very moving. We need to organise replenishments for the singers as it can be hot and thirsty work – last year FruJu iceblocks were a hit. The singers are not necessarily great vocalists – we have all ages and any young children who come along are always popular with the audiences who usually have treats to offer them. I will miss it this year!

    • Barbara Podmore

      That sounds lovely Chris! We had a small church choir singing carols one evening during late night shopping, but there were no tears. I think our choir conductor might have felt like crying because so few of us came to rehearsals, but she is made of stern stuff and smiled instead.