Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Not the most quiet time of the year …

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It is the first Sunday of Advent. And like every year, it is also the day I am reminded of a favorite song we would recite in school while growing up in south eastern Bavaria.

“Das ist die stillste Zeit im Jahr… immer wenn es Weihnacht wird…” ( tried to insert an audio file downloaded from itunes… but it wouldn’t work, sorry!)

It translates to It is the most quiet time of the year, as we approach Christmas.

I ask myself: What happened? Where did this time for reflection, consideration, and preparation disappear to? We have been bombarded with advertising for Black Friday and Cyber Monday for weeks, our post office box is overflowing with unwanted flyers advertising deals (that are not really deals at all), the parking lots at the mall have barely a stall open, craft sales are located around every corner with each one claiming to feature the highest quality gifts available.

Recalling distant memories of growing up, and those not so distant memories of raising our own family the first Sunday of Advent marked a special time. An evergreen wreath would adorn the breakfast table, and the first candle would be lit while the family gathered. Anticipation was in the air: Everyone knew that the time had arrived to create Christmas cards for family, friends and neighbors, craft small gifts for siblings, parents and grandparents, and tree decorations that would adorn the real fir tree with real candles on Christmas Eve. Soon the scent of cinnamon and marzipan would waft through the house. It was also a time to bring the family together, enjoy some cake and cookies and play Advent games. Our family favorite was “Nüsse Tippen”, a simple game that would include young and old alike, and renamed in our Canadian family “The Nut Game.”

The game explained: Purchase a large quantity of nuts in the shell. Select a wide plate or tray with a raised rim, and spread the nuts onto the plate. Gather the family around the table and the plate of nuts. Select the first person to leave the room. The rest of the group will quietly select one nut by pointing to it, constantly keeping an eye on it. The person who left the room is called back, rejoins the group and begins to remove nuts, one at a time, from the plate. When she or he reaches and touches THE nut previously selected the group shouts “STOP!” which completes the first round. The nut plate is replenished and the next person leaves the room while the group selects THE nut. The game continues until everyone has had a turn… or several. In our family the game often lasted all afternoon!

Every year I remind myself that “less is more”. I work consciously on not going over board with shopping, and usually resort to a home-made/hand-made gift, even if it is a plate of assorted Christmas cookies or knitted socks. I have created comfort quilts for family members over the years and delight in the look of surprise and joy when the gift is unwrapped. Best of all I love a relaxed get-together with family and friends, my dog wrapped in a quilt, away from the hustle and bustle of the commercialization of Christmas – listening to traditional music, overlooking the winter wonderland we are living in.

This entry was published on November 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm. It’s filed under Creativity Update, History, Journaling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

22 thoughts on “Not the most quiet time of the year …

  1. Beautiful post Anna x Happy Christmas x

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  2. Judithkh on said:

    Dear Anna: after so many weeks of providing such informative and lengthy blogs about elements of design, sharing your stunning photos of so many things you have observed, advocating for the Kenderdine Campus at Emma Lake, proactively booking another venue for next summer’s workshop, reviewing and responding to each and every person’s comments on each blog, sharing your warm memories and thoughts about Advent – the evocative photos in this blog say it all: contemplation and the simple pleasures of nature are the perfect antidote to all the craziness ‘out there’.

    Thank you for all of your blogs in these past many weeks, but most of all for this one and for the truly inspiring photo of that lovely moon over the hills,beckoning us to find PEACE.

    Thinking of you, and of the artful peace you are inviting us to seek and find in this season of waiting. May peace be with you and yours and all who respond to your invitation….

    judithkh in Regina

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  3. Dianne Firth on said:

    I enjoyed your nostalgic walk in the past. It helps to put perspective back in our Christmas rush now that the season is upon us once more.

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  4. Hanne Seidel on said:

    I just checked my calendar, Anna, and you have a reprieve! The first Advent Sunday is next week…. That means we have one more week to work on those knitted socks and other hand-made gifts. I have a few on the go and feel a little pressured to get them done. Another thought, have you seen Carol’s exhibit, the “Artless Fabrications Tour”, which the Saskatchewan Arts Council has been touring around the province for the last year and a half… It’s home for Nov.1-Dec. 30, 2012 is at the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery. This exhibit of 52 fibre art pieces is incredibly special and not to be missed.

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    • Hahaha, Hanne!!! Well done!!
      I guess I have been trying to catch up with life and work ever since we got back from this summer’s crazy 6 week trip that I ran ahead by a whole week. I suppose that means that I am all caught up! It also means that I can officially spend some extra time on the sewing machine and finish a new piece…
      About Carol’s exhibit: I was fortunate enough to see the exhibition in Assiniboia last April where our work overlapped for a couple of weeks. It certainly is a huge achievement and I have congratulated her by email and by leaving a note in the guestbook.

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  5. This post is one of the best reasons I continue to remain subscribed to your blog. It was amusing, nostalgic and I agree with it all. Thanks for the warm fuzzies.

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  6. Leona Larsen on said:

    We had many relatives and friends join my immediate family during the season. It was the very best time of the year in my estimation. As quite solitary child in a large family and group I spent much time watching, listening and absorbing all the happening, ideas, personalities within this grouping. Alot of food, jolly drinks and gifts spread around our home. As the years passed this event began to diminish in number as people moved away, died or just had their own celebrations. I sorely miss all this interaction and often wonder about all these lovely people who have disappeared from my life. We are down to just Del, Suzanne, Katherine and sometimes Kirsten plus myself at this time of year and it can seem like a lonely time. How did everyone become so busy and removed at this special time of year. How I often long for the old days when the candles are lit and we sit down to a dinner that is attended by so few bodies. Yikes this is depressing to say the least and I had better shape up and be happy with what my blessing have given me. I may erase this but maybe not. Leona

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  7. Wendy Klotz on said:

    I agree that I cherish the less commercial aspects of Christmas. Last night I attended a choral concert that was held in an old church downtown . My friend was singing in the choir. It was truly magical and when the audience joined in with a couple of carols I felt that the Christmas season was beginning. That and the fact I had decorated my front urns with Christmas greenery earlier in the day.

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    • Oh, a concert with great acoustics – such a wonderful way to get into the spirit! Wish I could have been there. I used to sing in a choir in Calgary and remember well how much joy it brought to my life and those who attended the concerts we organized. Thanks for triggering those memories, Wendy!

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  8. Donna Tremblay on said:

    Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories with us..it brought back memories of my childhood, we weren’t rich but we enjoyed what we had. I wish we could turn back time so our grand kids could go there with us, at least we have memories of such great times with family and friends.Thanks again..Donna

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    • I know how you feel, Donna! Time never stands still and so many people nowadays think giving into the commercialization of the season is progress… Let’s make a real effort to move toward incorporating more traditions into our lives. Something I like to embrace and make a focus for 2013.

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  9. Thanking you for sharing the story of The Nut Game, brought back memories of my dad. We always had a bowl of huts in the shell and he took great enjoyment sitting with the nut cracker and enjoying a feast each Christmas. The fourth slide today, the stitches that seem to go in every direction. I presume they are hand stitches, do they have a name. Fascinating and something I like to try.

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  10. Hi Anna, I very much agree with you that Christmas has become a never ending commercial event. I too have cut down on the buying of so many gifts. I long ago realized that the gifts given can’t replace the love for the recipient. I now spend the gift of time with my family instead of rushing about trying to get everything done! Certainly the grandchildren love being with their Oma and Opa more – but I realize that their wish to be with us may decline as they become teenagers. At least we have established a ‘real’ relationship with them from day 1.

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    • Thanks for weighing in with your comment, Karen! I believe that with the constant reminders that we are in the middle of a world-wide economic downturn more and more people will re-examine their priorities…

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  11. Love the slide show!

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