Tag Archives: giving gifts

It’s different this year…

I knew it would be, but I didn’t think it would be so hard. I think it started when thoughts became reality: this would be the first Christmas in which I would hear no music. Earlier this summer when I gave my cd’s away, the facts were there, but not the season. I am glad I gave when I did…but now it is starting to settle in–Christmas in Silence. Oh, believe me, I sing in my head like a 24 hour radio station, but it’s not quite the same.

There is still joy in the start of December. I am just navigating my way around some “lumps of coal:” some ‘differences’ between Christmas present and Christmas pasts.

Eleven years ago, my Christmas season was not so ordinary either. Between my diagnosis on November 18, 2002 to my first major surgery December 18, 2002–I had missed most of school but still completed my assignments, sat for hours in waiting rooms and bright-colored hospital rooms at Denver Children’s in which I met a whole team of doctors that talked to me about everything that I did not even grasp or understand and still tried to do fun seasonal traditions with my youth group and family.

Then I had my surgery. I think my biggest worry was thinking I would not make it home in time for Christmas. Like I said, I did not (at that point) fathom the seriousness of the surgery and its possible effects nor even living the rest of my life with this disease. I cried more about missing school than fearful emotions (nerd, I know.) The day of the surgery, my pastor and his wife joined my parents and myself in the waiting area. They had brought some gifts from their boys and the youth group. One was a stuffed chicken that played music and danced, “The Chicken Dance” song. For some strange reason this was huge for us back then.

At first, it was just us in the room. Then a couple and a with a small boy, maybe aged 4, joined us. Making casual conversation, they told us that the boy’s name was Gabriel. That is all I know, but I can still see his face when we showed him the dancing chicken. It was silent joy of the season. I saw him a few days later when my sister and I went downstairs to do the craft of the day. Gabriel’s dad was pulling him in a red wagon; my sister was pushing me in a wheelchair.

The craft was a folded photo book. They had loads of Christmas stickers and markers. I just used stickers. I still have the little booklet; It holds five of my favorite pictures from that hospital experience. And I was discharged on Christmas Eve.

scan0001 Note: the reindeer antler headband!

Present day–my handwriting is down to minimal use. My few Thanksgiving cards were simple (I liked it that way.) I knew my Christmas cards would have to be too. Wanting a different but fun greeting card to accompany my picture and “<3 Mel” signature, I decided on stickers. I got twelve cards done and noted how it was like a OT exercise to my fingers. I cried because on a card I messed up my signature and smiley face so bad I was going to throw it away. Mom and Dad said I should still send it. It is not about my signature, smiley face or stickers–it is about bringing joy to my family and friends this season. I need to focus my own joy on that aspect as I finish my cards this week.

It’s only December 1st. I don’t think gratitude should be limited to the month of November. I have much to be thankful for even in the different physical circumstances. Not all is different: Already this upcoming weekend, I have fun holiday events that I plan to attend with my family. Christmas movies have captions and I realized that I can still enjoy the Nutcracker ballet even if I don’t hear the music. Ballet is beautiful. Tis the season for a good cup of peppermint mocha, gingerbread cookies and peanut brittle; carolers, classic Christmas novels by the fireplace, and trees decorated with lights and special ornaments; snow, parties with friends or family, and the times of solitude.

It is the season of giving, the most wonderful time of the year, the joy that is ours in remembering the greatest gift of all:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Hospital Trips

Freshly Painted

I finished a very random, colorful, spunky (not my style usually) sort of painting. It was messy (literally, my hands were caked with paint). Want to know the secret to this fun texture? I used toilet paper rolls for the big circles and bubble wrap for the smaller circles. Thank you Pinterest for the toilet paper roll idea and the birthday party art class for the bubble wrap idea. It was one of those paintings in which I had no set goal in mind as far as placement of colors or circles. Purely spontaneous. I thought it deserved a title, so I set out to make one.

DSCN1811 8×10

I am really bad with titles. I even struggle with titles for my blog most often. This painting was no exception. My initial thought was “Candy buttons.” Have you ever tried those candies? Little clumps of sugar on paper:


You lick the back of the paper until the droplet falls off. It is like mastering an art really–too much saliva and you get a soggy paper mess that stains your hands; and too little saliva means you eat the paper and it does not taste good. I remember first being introduced to Candy Buttons when I was in the fourth grade. We were on a family vacation and stopped into a huge candy store in Chicago. I thought they were the coolest thing! I did not see them again until I was a college graduate shopping at Hobby Lobby for painting supplies.

“Oh wow! Candy Buttons!!!” I remember being so excited that I bought a few bags. Spontaneous. Then I bought more with the purpose of sharing my candy joy with the kids at the after-school street church I volunteered for on Thursday evenings. As I demonstrated the process of how to eat them, I was a bit timid about how the kids would react. Their faces were priceless. So eager to try this new candy. We rationed out all the Candy Buttons within minutes.


Something about this painting also reminds me of cotton candy ice cream (which is one of my favorites, probably because I can actually taste the flavor.) Almost all other flavors, besides chocolate, taste like vanilla to me. That gets bland. Cotton candy ice cream has a taste of its own. It is unique. And it leaves your tongue blue.

cotton candy exhibit b

I think this painting creates a fun theme, but felt stuck in the “candy box” of boring titles. I thought of all these bright-colored and fruity flavored candies coming together: Skittles, Nerds, Starbursts, Gummie Bears (plus the Candy Buttons and cotton candy flavor) and my title said what I was thinking: Candy Fusion. 🙂

Not all my canvases get titles, but it is an interesting process when they do get titles. I am finding that abstract art often does not need a title. Maybe that is me being too practical. “It is not a painting of anything,” I often say; “Anything” meaning concrete form. And yet, how is it that art at museums have the best fitting titles on abstract pieces that leave you looking deeper into the canvas in search of how the title was formed? It is as if the title should grasp in one profound statement, the essence of the work and still leave a window of opportunity for the mind to expand upon. I don’t think like this. I find that I sit stumped…at a loss for being able to group words together.

And yet other times, the title is what inspires the painting:

DSCN1774Fire and Ice (16×20)

Then there are those that I just leave as No Title:

DSCN1791 8×10

DSCN1804 11×14

DSCN1779 16×20

I am currently working on my smaller canvases for the month of June’s display at Beans-n-Cream. But I also have big ideas forming in my mind for my BIG canvases!! I am excited and can’t wait to get started on a few of those as well. In brainstorming, I realized that I need to branch out by creating or trying new abstract techniques. It is a challenge; I think that is why as silly as Candy Fusion may seem…it was different and I enjoyed trying something new.

I entered an “art moment in thought” while at my grandparent’s house. It caused me to stop and really question my motive for painting. When I first started painting, I painted gifts. Gift giving is my passion; it brings me sincere joy and my beginning paintings reflected this. I think over the past year, I have lost sight of that until now. I may not be painting with a specific person in mind, but I get to share my paintings with you here on my blog; to those who dine at Beans-n-Cream or the art show in Yellow Springs. I looked at the painting I did for my grandparents and I resolved that I can still paint like that–with thoughts of gift giving and joy. I was given a gift…to paint…and share my story. That brings me sincere joy. And that is why I will keep painting. 🙂

More to come…


Filed under Paintings