When I was a teenager my favorite part of high school was art class. In ceramics class, I made a variety of animals that took on a folk, primitive style. I tried to make as many different ones as I could in the limited amount of time. Animals also showed up in paintings, drawings, and weavings.
I loved going to the zoo with my mom and grandparents where I could get inspiration for artwork. The giraffes, monkeys, parrots, and many other favorites were a joy to see. I especially liked the llamas. They were unusual with their long necks and lovely brown fur. They always seemed happy and content.
One Christmas, the zoo had a Christmas walk. It was bitter cold, but my mom and I had to go because it was Christmas at the Zoo. How could we miss that? We bundled up and walked along the pathway. It was too cold for any animals to be out. I remember a few lights and some painted wooden designs. We guessed that the main attraction was to be able to walk the path in winter. But then excitedly, we saw the reason for the event. Around the bend in the path, we glimpsed a Nativity scene with lights shining on it. As we neared the display, we were greatly disappointed. We couldn’t see the baby Jesus. We couldn’t see Mary or Joseph. Nestled under the lights, in front of the manger was my favorite, dark-brown llama, trying to keep warm. We decided he just wanted to keep baby Jesus warm. We smiled at the thought.
Christmas day came! I was so excited! I had a special surprise for my mom and grandmother. When they woke up and looked at our little Nativity, they were surprised to see a handmade ceramic llama right in front of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. My mom and gram broke out in smiles and laughter—a special memory for me since my gram didn’t laugh very often. Hearing her chuckle meant everything to us. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas filled with lighthearted laughter!
Look for books by Jackie Zack. An Irish Heart, A Chance Mistake, Rafe's Cafe.
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When I was a child, Christmas was always the time to bring out cotton balls. These soft white puffs were not meant to decorate. Instead, they became our mother’s way of teaching us a spiritual lesson.
The mundane becomes inspiration.