We put our Christmas tree up right at the beginning of December this year. We usually put it up quite early, in order for it to be all pretty for people who come for Lily's birthday on 6th, but this year it went up on 1st. Looking at it now, it does add a lovely nostalgic twinkle in the corner of the room and makes me feel all warm and cheery, especially as I am typing this in a fairly chilly, dark room. Hung on our tree are decoration gathered on our travels: Mr Walker and I tend to go on holiday in the Autumn and buy something to hang on the tree from places we have been. There is the most gaudy Eiffel Tower being clutched by a fairy, a shiny red Empire State Building, a glass heart from the Lake District, and a cat holding a present from the Isle of Man. When we hang our decorations we can remember the places we have been together and we continue to add to them, with a painted York scene bauble from our trip up north in October. All this rambling on has a point, and that is today's picture: Dressing the Christmas Tree by Bessie Maud Christian Fagan...
See, it's not all muff jokes and eating. I think this is a beautiful image, not my normal thing on these posts, but in its way an evolution on from things like Cherry Ripe by Millais. All that is clear at first view are her hands, her head and the little pink bird, emerging from the darkness. The more you look however, the more you make out, and the tree with its candles are just about visible behind her. There is a quiet seriousness to the image which contrasts with some of the more lively scenes I've talked about so far. For example, the frenzied food unpacking of the Christmas Hamper couldn't be further from this little girl hanging her bird on the tree.
Her expression is interesting, she looks happy but not bouncy grinning. She has a look of thoughtful pleasure which she shares with us as she pauses in her task. I like quiet images of Christmas, I value the moments that are about reflection and pleasure, rather than battling through crowds and dealing with difficult people. Isn't it telling how stressed everyone gets this time of year? Driving through the city I have been carved up viciously many times and I've begun to fear for my well-being on the motorway I commute down. Possibly the next person who endangers me in a car will be pulled over and presented with this picture. Hey chaps, relax, go hang a bird!
I wish you all a peaceful, bird-hanging Christmas. I'm off to feed my Christmas cake. Again.
See you tomorrow.