Extending the 12th Day of Christmas year round

My family’s homemade Christmas card shares the Nativity spirit, and lots of people say nice things about it as an actual card and also a Richmond News column. Now I’m finally sharing it here for the Twelfth Day of Christmas, also called the Epiphany. It celebrates the journey of the Magi—wise men from the East—to Bethlehem and the infant Jesus, adding greatly to the broad significance of the Nativity.

Have a look at the illustration and column below. They apply year round.

Christmas 2016 Nativity illustration by Suzanna Wright, Vancouver, BC

Welcome to my family’s homemade Christmas card. It features the “Peace on Earth” visual (above) by my daughter Suzanna. This column also appears in the card.

Suzanna has used cartoon style to simply say a lot. I’ll share with you what I see in her art.

For a start, I see diverse people focused on a central treasure—in harmony with each other, animals and nature. They’re even okay with the closeness of at least fifteen humans and the pig, cat, sheep, rabbit and dog.

They’re still, but they pick up energy from the treasure and send off energy with their vibrancy and focus. The treasure is “Peace on Earth,” the higher value imbuing all, enabling a better community and world.

Since the card is for Christmas, I also see the visual as the Nativity of Jesus. I bet there’s a newborn child nestled in the manger, charming everyone as they gaze on him.

The scene includes the baby’s young mom, Mary, along with her fiancé, Joseph. He knows the baby is not his offspring, but he’s kept his faith in a divine power and Mary, who would’ve been shamed or worse if he hadn’t. Joseph and Mary are outwardly ordinary, blending in.

I’m aware that a Roman emperor’s decree has forced them to travel far from their town to Bethlehem, where they have little or no shelter. It occurs to me they’ll later become refugees, fleeing to Egypt to save their child from a murderous local king.

But in Suzanna’s visual they have friendly company, including humble shepherds who were watching over their flocks when peaceful voices led them to the manger. Also, other people may have followed the shepherds back to the manger after they spread the news.

That fits with the Nativity account by Luke of Antioch (near Aleppo), a physician. He became the historian of the early Christians, with an engaging style. I think he wanted readers to identify with the shepherds, who take up half his Nativity story, as well as with the family.

People do that so much that Nativity characters often look Ugandan in Christmas cards from Uganda, Japanese in cards from Japan, and so on. In that vein, Suzanna’s visual is fitting for a community from many lands—when we identify as harmoniously diverse.

Two final notes:

First, Jesus spoke well of shepherds and even identified as “the good shepherd” in his public life thirty years later, in keeping with the Nativity scene. He also reached out to people who’d been shamed. Two millennia later, the values still inspire.

Second, last December our new neighbours from China had little English, so we added a message in Chinese on our 2015 homemade card and dropped it off on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, our doorbell rang, and their beaming family presented a Yule-log Christmas cake.

Our Christmas dinner would’ve lacked a cake, so the kindness was perfect.

________

In case you wish to use the card non-commercially for its intended purpose, you can download it as a PDF. Print it on two sides of a sheet and fold it to half the width and then half the length.

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