Thinking ahead to Hogmanay.

The fall had come up on us with all of the color and beauty and blustering nature that we have come to enjoy and respect here in the Midwest. In these northern parts there have been cold nights and even the first snows and we realize how fast this year has passed. What a year, indeed, and the challenges are no doubt not yet over. It has been hard to be so distanced from those we love dearly and technology has made us feel even more remote than miles ever could. I have spent more time contemplating what is truly important to me, and prioritizing those things in my own life. Like many, I find myself reaching back to basics and more simpler times so that I can find those inner strengths slumbering deep within my very soul. We cook for our small few and dream of larger gatherings of friends and family with food and drink, warm hugs, boisterous laughter and hearty conversation.

As I thought of the various holidays coming up and how different they will be this year I decided to paint a few images for personal cards to send to friends and family. Thinking of a variety of traditions and my Gaelic roots I found myself focusing on the traditions of Scotland. When I printed the images into cards I decided to share them more openly so that anyone who might want to write the old fashioned sentiments to friends or family and fancy the less ordinary greeting card, have more choices. Today, I added the following four cards into the Gallery – gift shop.

No matter how simple the dwelling, it is the heart of a home that blesses those who live there. At Hogmanay it is a special blessing for the new year to have a first footing. This is when a dark-haired male arrives bearing special, symbolic gifts. Thinking about these traditions I found myself painting my dream cabin and envisioning the moment I would open my door to a first footing, and the blessings he would bring.
First footing is when a dark-haired male arrives bearing special, symbolic gifts such as a coin, a lump of coal, a piece of dark bread, and drink (most probably whisky). These items are said to represent financial prosperity, warmth, food and good cheer. Salt is often included in the roster and no doubt is for fine luck and flavor as well as to contribute to the host’s food preparation. Thinking about these traditions I found myself painting the moment my door would open to a first footing, a dark haired guest bearing good fortune at that sweet midnight moment, and the way the warm and welcoming interior would spill out into the cold.
Black bun is a type of fruit cake encased in pastry that was originally eaten on Twelfth Night but is now enjoyed at Hogmanay. It includes raisins, currents, almonds, citrus peel, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Thinking about the traditions of sharing seasonal foods, I found myself painting a loaf of the dark, savory bread, sliced and ready to serve guests.
Myself being especially fond of the iconic image of the Highland cow, I found myself chuckling at the notion of a cherub and a playful cow bringing a unique cheer to a household.

I hope you have the most loving and peaceful of Holiday seasons over the next several months. Enjoy the time with your immediate family and remember that in God’s time we will be able to broaden our circle once more and that will be all the more sweet, for absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Seek peace. Share hope. Live a life of love, for it is the greatest power that exists, truly.