A Family Christmas Story - 1

Collaged Abacus from About Time- a different kind of Family Album
Last year, the first Christmas without Jim, I escaped to California for the Holidays. I visited with Jim's family and his best friend Dick. And all of our family was together - visiting San Francisco, Avila beach and Jim's hometown, Madera, CA.

This year I stayed home. I am facing my first Christmas at home without Jim - head on. I am muddling through.

But I have not unpacked the 57 year collection of boxes of Christmas decorations and ornaments in the basement.

Even without them memories are everywhere - a song, a Christmas movie, you know how that is. And I am glad. In our 58 years together Jim and I shared 58 Christmases.

Christmas is a large part of our story together - from our Christmas wedding to a memorable family holiday trip to Germany - that in the 10 years of writing this blog I have savored Christmas on it many times.

For the next couple of days I want to recapture our story through those posts.

 From December 2007 

O Tannenbaum 

Jimmy Schoettler, 1957, Brooklyn, New York
 Christmas Day Jim and I will be flying to California. We will have Christmas Eve with our near-by family and Christmas Dinner with our daughter and her family near San Francisco. Its as close to bi-locating as we get. So we did not bring down the boxes from the attic and unpack the ornaments that are carefully wrapped in crumbling vintage newspaper scraps along with fresher, whiter more recent additions. Jim and I have always favored a big tree - since our first Christmas together when we had nothing to put on it . This was taken our third Christmas. We were living in Brooklyn where Jim was interning at Kings County Hospital. Jimmy was just a year old.

Because Jim and I lived away from either family of origin the tree took on a special meaning for us. As we added ornaments we took great care to keep them year-to- year. Over the years the kids added homemade ornaments. We bought trinkets when we traveled that became a part of the Christmas Tree dress-up. Every year the decorating ritual added more stories and the tree became a family album.

 In 2005 to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary my art show ABOUT TIME at Gallery 10 was all about our family. And, Jim worked with me to create it. People were not surprised. Albums and personal content have been a presence in my art work since the 1970s. Including the Christmas Tree was a natural - a perfect fit - an album - a living art work. Family art. The Christmas Tree is a special anonymous art work that families make together and treasure.

Christmas Tree Album, 2005, ABOUT TIME
 We installed the tree - family-style - in the smaller front room of the gallery. Jim reduced the tree to half a tree so that it fit flat on the wall like a relief - to set it up as an art piece. Karen and Monica and I strung the lights and added the ornaments. (click for a larger view - to see the memory pieces) 

 Another part of the show was a collage album - made as an abacus.
About Time, Abacus Album, collage construction created by Jim and Ellouise Schoettler
Remember - About Time.

Jim made the abacus and I constructed the digital photo cubes and collaged them.

Jim and his crew, Jimmy, Karen and Monica installed the abacus . 

 The photos spanned our fifty years together and included kids, grandkids, family, friends, art pieces and special events - with collage elements to embellish and transform. 

Jim and I have another of those anniversaries coming up - next week, December 30. Another milestone - 52 years. 

Dick, who was Jim's Best Man, lives near Robin near San Francisco. We will have lunch together on the 30th - a very nice reunion.

2013 - Back to today.

Dick Bloomer (L) and Jim Schoettler (R) - Good Friends

Although this picture of Dick and Jim was taken in 2011 - I know we met at Millie's in Lafayette for breakfast that year - because we always met there when we came to the area.

A gift for today - Dick called me for Christmas the other day and we talked and laughed  - of cabbages and kings - and Jim. The kind of conversation you can have with an old friend.

He and Jim met at Madera High School and were room-mates in college - at Fresno State Univ -(now Univ of CA-Fresno).  Dick was a favorite in Jim's family - always welcome for supper. And, he still is.  He is my connection to those early days and stories.
I met him when he came to MD in the Army when Jim was at Hopkins in Medical School.

Fortunately he was stationed in the South when we got married so that he could stand with Jim at our wedding. That's a long-time friend.

And, a long-time friend is a blessing in your life

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