Christmas Cards: An Experience in Loss + Love

I’m thankful that every holiday season I can take a break from the craziness and have a peaceful moment, creating cards and remembering my grandmother. That’s what spending time with Nan felt like: peace in the midst of crazy.

I am a big fan of traditions, and the holiday season tends to be filled with them. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother (Nan, as she is known in the family) had the tradition of turning her paintings into Christmas cards. The card was slightly different each year: an angel, a landscape, a snow covered church. Every card unique and beautiful. 

But this year is different because Nan passed away in October. 

Losing someone close to you is strange. You can almost feel okay, and then some little thing comes up and stings you. Like realizing you will no longer receive your grandmother’s hand-painted Christmas card in the mail. 

It’s funny that something so small would leave me feeling so disappointed and sad, but it does. Nan’s cards had a way of lifting you despite the millions of ways the world can drag you down. And that’s important. It matters. It’s not something I want to go away. 

I decided I would try to carry on Nan’s tradition. I don’t know what made me think that it was a good idea--I’ve never done a watercolor painting in my life--but it just felt like it was the right thing.

So, I sat down in front of The Sound of Music (one of Nan’s favorites) with her pallet and paint brushes. I decided I would paint mistletoe. Nan was the most loving person I’ve ever known; mistletoe felt like the best way to represent that.
 
At first my attempts were comical, but eventually I started to figure things out. In the end, I had a picture I think Nan would have liked. Granted, it could have looked like the artwork of a kindergartener and she would still tell me it was beautiful. But I like it. Even though it’s nowhere near what she could have done, I feel like it honors her.

I’m thankful for this way to remember her, that every holiday season I can take a break from the craziness and have a peaceful moment. Because that’s what spending time with Nan felt like: peace in the midst of crazy.

This experience taught me how incredibly talented my grandmother was. I always knew she was great at what she did, but I didn’t know how difficult her craft was. Even more than that, it taught me my grandmother doesn’t have to be sitting next to me in order for me to share things with her. I can still bare my soul to Nan, but instead of holding her hand and using words, I’m holding her brushes and using paint.


A Selection of Nan's Cards
My 2016 Christmas Card

Kelsey Jameson is a calligrapher out of Tampa, Florida. Her daydreams consist of pugs, paper, and all things pretty. Her new company, Kelsey Jameson Designs, officially launches in February 2017.
Learn more at Kelseyjamesondesigns.com, or find her on most social media platforms as @kjamesondesigns.
Blog images courtesy of the author.