I don't generally come by holiday spirit easily. Maybe it's because I grew up in Florida and the festively decorated palm trees didn't really do it for me.
But now I actually have an option for a white holiday, so I don't know that I have much of an excuse anymore. Despite having the stereotypical winter wonderland, getting in a merry mood can still be difficult. I find it interesting that whether or not we're feeling particularly jolly, the arts play a huge part in our festivities during the holidays.
Music becomes an even bigger part of our lives. Holiday music and carols are played almost nonstop on the radio, in the malls and in our homes. Symphony orchestras, choirs and bell choirs do some of their most-celebrated work during the holidays. Even Broadway gets into the spirit with productions of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" or this year's "Donny & Marie: A Broadway Christmas." Of course, we annually have Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" and other favorites. I've seen "A Christmas Carol" on stage more times than I care to remember (though this has given me the opportunity to compare and contrast productions).
And the holidays tend to unleash the artist in each of us, whether we realize it or not _ bringing homemade holiday cards, decorations and gifts.
Many family Christmas trees are decorated with the artwork of young loved ones and often our holiday wreaths our homemade. In fact, my front door boasts a lovely wreath decorated by a community member from the Cooperstown Art Association's Adorn-a-Door Wreath Festival.
I spent a good portion of the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Art Association's annual event. More than 120 wreaths decorated by area artists, craftspeople and businesses were submitted for this silent auction, the proceeds from which go toward the Art Association's scholarship. The scholarship is gifted to a high school student pursuing art at the college level, bringing all this talk of art full circle. After bidding on a wreath, we traveled down to the Association's Holiday Member Show & Sale and unexpectedly purchased two perfect and reasonably priced gifts for family members _ a painting and some pottery. The holiday shopping had begun.
But perhaps it is the seasonal decorating that brings out our inner artist. We all have an individual sense of artistic flair when it comes to how we hang our lights, or if we choose to hang them at all.
Do we simply throw them over the hedge or do we meticulously wrap every branch of the perfect tree in our front yard? Are we a Pablo Picasso or an Edward Hopper when it comes to our light hanging? Regardless, we are all artists when it comes to the holidays, from the setting we create in our own homes to the gifts we bestow during this season.
In writing this I realize that perhaps I am more festive than I thought. After all, before December even arrived I had already purchased two gifts _ the festive and giving mood had taken over more than I anticipated. By the time mid-December hit, I had put my amateur photography skills to work creating photo-driven gifts _ collages, framed prints, albums and cards.
I hope this holiday season has inspired your inner artist.
I look forward to 2011, when I hope we can learn even more about the artistic opportunities that surround us in this area. Happy New Year!
Brittany Lesavoy is secretary of ArtsOtsego, the alliance of Otsego County arts organizations, and director of public relations for The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown. Column ideas may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 'Around The Arts' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/aroundthearts.