As we all recover from the feasts of good food and good cheer foisted upon us by well-meaning folks who seem to THRIVE on such things, and assume everyone else does too, it's good that THIS year, we have Sunday, a day of rest, to recover before having to go back to our nine-to-fives. Of course, I'm speaking generically here, because as you read this, I'll be heading down old I-77 toward the Sunshine State. Hey, even us retired folks need to take a vacation once in a while! You know, the British have the right idea. They have a national holiday the day after Christmas called "Boxing Day" in which to recover from the eggnog, fruitcake, and candy cane hangovers that go with Christmas. Boxing Day, for the non-anglophile, is when they throw out all the boxes and torn up Christmas wrap and burn them in a big bonfire with marshmallows toasted on the end of a stick. (Okay, so I added that last part myself.)

In this country, we don't burn our Christmas boxes, we load them in the car and take them back to the mall to exchange for what we REALLY wanted in the first place. I'm reminded of an incident shortly after Christmas a few years ago in which a good friend received an abstract painting as a gift from a good friend of HERS. This sucker was no Walmart frame filler, it was a good four or five feet square, lots of geometric shapes, subtle colors, lines, delicate spaces and textures, kind of a cross between a vintage Mondrian and Kandinsky on a bad day. Personally, I rather liked it, but she thought it was the most horrid looking thing she'd ever seen in her life. Worse than that, she felt duty bound to HANG it; and on top of that, she had to buy a FRAME for it--which is how I came to see it. Her artist friend probably couldn't afford the frame, or anything else for that matter, which is no doubt why she ended up with the painting in the first place. Her unloved "gift" ended up costing her in the neighborhood of seventy-five bucks before she was done.

The irony of the whole thing, which I made a point of bringing to her attention, was that the dress she happened to be wearing that day had much the same colors and patterned design elements as did the painting she so adamantly loathed. There was kind of a stunned look on her face as she eyed both her dress and the painting critically. For a moment I wasn't sure for what I shouldn't have kept my fool mouth shut lest she crown me over the head in disgust with her hated artwork. For another moment I thought she might storm out angrily, perhaps to go change her dress. Thankfully, she did neither. She took the comment in the playful spirit in which it was intended--a kind of object lesson in personal tastes. The point being, why is it, people who wouldn't HANG an abstract painting even in their upstairs CLOSET, don't mind sporting abstract art in the shirts and skirts they wear day in and day out for the whole world to see? Is there somehow a difference in what they see in the mirror and what they might see on their walls? Does the fact that, in clothing, abstract images serve the practical purpose of covering and beautifying their otherwise naked bodies really make all that much difference? Paintings cover naked WALLS, don't they? For years, textile designers have paid tribute to the styles and motifs of abstractionists from Picasso to Pollock in their highly popular designs, yet that same cloth, drawn taunt over stretchers and framed in a living room would draw anguished gasps of dismay. I don't know. I just don't know. Well, anyway, hope you all had a Merry Christmas without TOO many unhappy returns.