Every year, I struggle with Christmas and the holidays and what they mean to me. Much like my forays into 3-D, my forays into what the holidays “should” be like are colored by the past and by expectations. I remember when my parents separated when I was ten, and I believed my mother “ruined” Christmas. The magic was gone. I couldn’t understand why my father couldn’t be there and we couldn’t just celebrate like we had in years past.
Tolstoy said that every happy family is happy in the same way, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Melanie Beatty said that in alcoholic families, everyone’s angry: Mom’s angry, Dad’s angry, even the dog is angry. That last one stuck with me – even the dog? She’s right; my dog knew something was “up.”
Why do I bring that up now? As I learn how to make the holidays mine after all these years, I’m finding that the past is much with me. Which brings me to the Ojos de Dios, or “Eyes of God.”
The Huichol people believe that these amulets bring blessings and luck upon the person for whom they’re made. When a person is born, an ojo is made for them in the central temple. Ojos are also made at the inception of new business projects, marriages, and other beginnings. It’s a way to attract the benevolent attention of the deities onto one’s own life.
A friend of mine suggested some years ago to make the ojos using cinnamon sticks and embroidery floss. The idea caught fire in my mind and I love the shiny effect of the weaving. By varying the weaves, you can create more complex structures; but just by using a simple overdyed yarn you can achieve beautiful effects with relatively little effort.
I made these ojos for my office. I wanted to bring blessings on our work, and to remember that it’s the holidays. I’m trying to capture some of that sense of magic they had when I was little. I’m not sure what made it magical, which is part of the challenge; I don’t know what I’m searching for.
One year, my cat Marina kept batting down all the ornaments I’d put on our tree. She broke several of them and made a mess. By end of the holiday, all the ornaments were grouped in the top 18 inches of the tree, leaving the rest to the lights. The next year, I made ojos for the whole tree – a whole canister of them. It made me incredibly happy to do.
That’s part of the magic, then – making things. I think that we humans are crafty creatures and that making things with our hands is part of what satisfies us. So our holiday this year has centered around handmade things – from food to decorations.