Something in the air

I've always loved the symbolism of greenery in the dead of winter to connote hope and renewal. It's so manifestly human. With our sorry bare skins and subsequent need for warmth and shelter we are vulnerable as we make our way through the months when the earth is tilted away from the sun.

We've also cleverly observed that it all comes around in the end. Hence the hope and renewal.

I was given this splendid sprig of holly and a wreath, which I immediately had the idea to embellish with classic pine-scented car air-fresheners. It would make me laugh every time I walked up to the door.

I picked up three at the 7-Eleven (where else?), two pine ones and a strawberry one.

I might have figured. They are scented. Let me rephrase that, they are chemically aggressive. Their respective pineiness and strawberryness is nothing short of sensory assault. And battery. In a word, they stink.

I tried to contain the smell by slathering them in acrylic medium but to no avail. Two thick coats failed to neutralize the unleashed evil. As I tossed them and their equally offending packaging in a plastic bag, then a Ziploc bag, turned off the heat and stuck a fan in the window (brrr), I had a realization.

Pine-shaped car air-fresheners hanging from a pine wreath as decoration is a modestly hilarious idea. But I kind of like my wreath just the way it is, with a recycled bow I scrounged from a box marked "ribbons" and it's three tiny, built-in pine cones, strategically placed. It's sweet.

The air-freshener idea is funny. But it's not just ironic, it's cynical. It says "haha, you know that whole 'Christmas' thing? I'm too chicken to say I'm into it, so I'll make fun of it instead". Which come to think of it is pretty much what cynicism and irony do at any time of year.

They're no match for the sweetness of Christmas.

I've always loved Christmas. I love the feel of it. Something happens at this time of year that's palpable. I can't explain it, really. I just feel it. People smile on the street in a way they don't the rest of the time. I ignore the commercialism entirely. I don't buy presents and nobody buys me any. I don't need any. It's just a feeling of, well, good in the air. That, to me, is what my holly and my wreath symbolize. And good is too good to compromise with cynicism and irony or anything else.

I'm going to spend the holiday here in my Seattle studio, plotting, planning and making stuff. Out of other stuff.

There are two shows on the calendar so far, both installations, one in March and the other later in the summer. I'm excited for 2013.

Here's to green in the gray, fellow humans. I hope this will be taken in the broad, humanistic spirit in which I mean it: Merry Christmas.