Christmas Cheer, Unemployment, and the Recession

Polish Pottery -- Original oil by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

I am a Pollyanna pessimist, which means that, although my natural tendency is to look at the negative aspects of life, I continuously train myself to look at the brighter side. I try not to be an irritating ass about this, spouting off shallow platitudes in an effort to coat brussels sprouts with fondant icing, but I also recognize that the same circumstances can look very very different, depending upon one’s way of looking at them.

That being said, I am feeling discouraged these days.

And that being said, it doesn’t mean that I’m being optimistic or pessimistic, but just honest.

I don’t know what the future holds — who does? — but right now it’s looking a bit murky up ahead, dense, with smog, and the path is not clearly marked.

The newspaper announces happily that the Recession is over — apparently it ended two, three years ago — but when your job has been eliminated, as the Norwegian Artist’s day job has — and the local newspaper’s Help Wanted section is shorter than the Freebies — well, let’s just say that, in our household, holiday spending levels will be on a Recessionary basis as opposed to a recovery one.

Which, for our household, won’t be much different than the spending habits in the best of years. While the newspapers reported people thronging through the doors of discount stores to buy boom boxes and X boxes and sock boxes and big-screen TV boxes, we kept it conservative, the Norwegian Artist and I and the four children each purchasing one reasonable gift for each member of the family, and devoting Christmas morning to the slow, leisurely opening of each wrapped box, one at a time, passing the revealed item around from member to member before the next gift was chosen for its unveiling.

Noontime Stroll -- Original Oil by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

The morning itself is a yearly gift, one that provides lasting memories that require no batteries, replacement parts, or extended warranties.

So, even though the job prospects ahead look challenging, the spirit of Christmas remains unfazed, with six people plus two more, all with a vested interest and history and passion for one another, draped around the living room and exclaiming over the unwrapping of a ball of yarn (for me), a calendar (every year, for the Norwegian Artist), a sketchbook, a novel, a plastic Minotaur, a bag of coffee.

There is heat from the woodstove, food in the cupboards, and the pleasant feeling of being around people who genuinely like and love one another.

The circumstances haven’t changed. Just the point of view.

Sunday Morning -- original oil by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Now showing at Samarah Fine Art, Whitefish, MT.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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12 Responses to Christmas Cheer, Unemployment, and the Recession

  1. Anya says:

    I really like that last painting you chose of the lake in the forest. For all the concern and bleakness that may be ahead for many of us in this great recession (which I don’t believe to be over at all), the painting testifies to the tremendous power of hope, and to the ability of art to lift people up.

    Christmas, in its true sense, is about that too. The birth of the Savior – a source of great hope indeed 🙂

  2. Patty H says:

    I just found your site, and have been reading it and enjoying the paintings for the past 45 minutes.You have a new reader. I look foreward to another installment.

    • Thank you — it is a joy when people read what I write and comment on it. Please pass me on — I am slogging through the slow process of building up my readership, with the hopes that someday I could generate regular income from my writing.

      I am glad that you enjoyed the Norwegian Artist’s work — although I am married to the man, I can confidently say that he’s really, really good. Please pass him on as well!

      How did you find me?

      • Patty H says:

        I found your site on a blog awardsite. My niece has a blog(My Mad World) and when I went to see her blog, found yours and started reading it. I think you are entertaining to read and when I saw your husbands paintings I knew I would check here every day.

        • I am delighted that you found me. I try to post my Middle Aged Plague blog once a week, and the Norwegian Artist 4-5 times a week. On my site, in the bar to the right and below the blogroll,is a button that says Sign Me Up for e-mail updates as to when I will be blathering next.

          On the Norwegian Artist’s site, there is also a space to sign up for updates, below the writing and next to the blogroll.

          I encourage you to consider signing up for the e-mails, so that, in case I don’t post something for awhile, you don’t get frustrated and think, “Bother it All! This Woman just isn’t keeping up.”

          I don’t want to lose you!

          I found your niece’s site and enjoyed it — lots of happy photos, easy to read, and happy. I was smiling when I was done.

  3. Nicole says:

    The paintings are beautiful! My Aunt Patty was telling me about your site and I am really enjoying it! Thank you so much for the compliment about my blog too!!

    Christmas is always so hard, recession or not, with a lot of people expecting gifts. Our family is pretty good about doing handmade stuff and only buying for the little ones. We just enjoy all of us being together!

    • Christmas is so much more than electronic toys, isn’t it? It’s funny to think that the technological wonders that we would have exclaimed over as children are in landfills now, but the memories we have of being together live on, only improving with time.

      Thank you for your kind comments on the Norwegian Artist’s work — more of him can be found on the website at I know; I’m shameless.

      May your Thanksgiving this coming week be one of joy and warmth, with a house filled to overflowing with noise and chaos and laughter and love.

      • Nicole says:

        LOL! Nah your not shameless, just proud! =)

        I know! I am trying to teach my daughter that we don’t need all that stuff but she doesn’t always get it. She’ll be 4 in January so it’s kind of hard for her to understand that right now.

        I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving also!

        • When our two oldest children were 7 and 4, we had, by virtue of necessity, and extraordinarily simple Christmas. We bought each member of the family a special pottery bowl that was their very own to eat with at the dinner table. Flaxen-haired Dynamo’s bowl had a snowman on it, and she was in transports.

          A week later, at a doctor’s visit, the doctor asked Flaxen-hair what Santa had brought her for Christmas.

          “A bowl!” Flaxen-hair happily replied.

          The expression on the doctor’s face was more priceless than what is advertised in a credit card ad.

          Keep it up. It’s not easy, because our entire societal structure is out to get you if you don’t indiscriminately consume, but the value of your life together as a family is truly, truly priceless.

          A Happy Thanksgiving to us all.

          • Nicole says:

            What a great story! I bet the look on the Dr.’s face was priceless. lol

            Yes it! There is so much pressure to make us buy so much for our kids. My daughter hardly plays with half the stuff she has as it is! Been trying to explain to her that other kids don’t have what she does so she should learn to be happy with what she has. The things she wants are not things she ‘needs’ to survive. We also have her help us, when she has too many things, pack up stuff to take to the thrift store and drop off so that other kids will be able to use them. Just trying to some how let her know that there are kids out there that really don’t have much but they do have family that loves them. That is all that should matter!

            • We are fighting against the insidious nature of a culture that does not realize how much it has, and how very little others have.

              Our kids still trot out the stories of how we “made” them package up their beloved items and take them to the thrift store. Oh, please. So 25 stuffed animals are gone and 50 are still left.

              One time, we were in the thrift store looking for something when one daughter commented, “Oh, look! Here’s a shirt that looks just like the one that I have at home. Wait a minute — this IS my shirt! MOM!”

              Did it matter that she no longer fit the shirt?

              The Norwegian Artist and I had to pack things up at night and store the boxes in the trunk of the car. Otherwise, the kids went ripping through, finding “treasures” that had been flung all over the floor, not valuable enough to be put away.

              People don’t need more stuff. They need people. Keep it up — it’s not easy working your way upstream when a bunch of other crafts are coming at you the other way, but at least you won’t fall down the waterfall with the rest of them!

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