Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Soap

If you're a parent, chances are good that you have received a handmade gift from your child at Christmas. In my family, us kids routinely gave my parents such "special" presents. These were always made in an elementary school art class and usually consisted of glazed and fired clay objects in the shape of bowls, animals or, in one case, a bald human head decorated with flowers (I'm pretty sure my sister Susan was responsible for that one).

My youngest sister, Sally, joined in the effort during her kindergarten year. Sally's teacher choose a more useful and less complicated project for her budding young artists. She had them make Christmas soap. She provided bars of of mildly perfumed white soap and instructed her students on how to apply seasonal decals. Each child made three bars which were then carefully wrapped in Christmas paper with the final touch being a handmade gift tag.

For many of the children, this was going to be their first holiday gift giving experience and Sally was no exception. She bubbled with excitement as she placed her gift to my mother under our Christmas tree. Our tree was traditionally placed in the parlor (a.k.a. living room - blame my New Jersey upbringing) of our house. The parlor was our "fancy room" reserved for company and use on special occasions. It contained our piano, a pink velvet couch, two wingback chairs, a fireplace and, in December, our Christmas tree.

Sally's gift was one of several "family gifts" that would accrue under the tree in the weeks before Christmas. Naturally, Santa's gifts arrived on Christmas eve after we had gone to bed. Sally placed her package front and center under the tree where it was admired by the whole family. Toby, our Old English Sheepdog, also noticed the growing pile of interesting wrapped packages.

While we were at school the next day and mom was busy, Toby sauntered into the parlor drawn by an enticing odor. He sniffed among the gifts where he discovered Sally's fragrant package. Being a typical card-carrying dog, he thought a tasty morsel lay behind the decorative paper.  He tore into the package and "sampled" each soap before realizing they smelled far better than they tasted.

Toby tore into the package and "sampled" each soap before realizing they smelled far better than they tasted.
When Sally arrived home her beautiful gift was in tatters. The pretty paper lay like confetti scattered over three partially gnawed soaps. Fortunately, the decals on the top of each soap escaped injury and Sally was able to repair her gift by smoothing out the divots left by Toby's teeth. She rewrapped the gift and placed it once again under the tree.

The next day, Toby repeated his ransacking of the soap. This time the decals did not fair as well and Sally spent quite a bit of time reconstructing the decorative bars. Once again the repaired soaps were wrapped but this time Sally placed them on top of the piano. This proved to be just the ticket, because  they remained there unmolested until Christmas morning.

When Mom opened her gift she admired the beauty of the misshaped soaps. "They're lovely and exactly what I wanted," she said to a beaming Sally. It was one of those magical family moments. Only Toby looked a little put out as he stood there with his nostrils quivering.

Happy Holidays!

Hey Ewe There!
10x8 inches, oil on linen canvas, 2017
BUY THIS PAINTING AT AUCTION Click on this link to bid:
Hey Ewe There - auction ends on Sunday, December 17th at 9:00am PST. 
A ewe and her lamb on my friend’s farm on Whidbey island.