The 2016 Calendar

November 02, 2015 2 Comments

First snow! The flakes,
So few, so light,
Remake the world
In solid white

All bundled up,
We feel as if
We were fat penguins
Warm and stiff.

The toy-packed shops
Half split their sides,
And Mother brings home
Things she hides.

Old carols peal.
The dusk is dense.
There is a mood
Of sweet suspense.

The shepherds wait,
The kings, the tree -
All wait for something
Yet to be,

Some miracle.
And then it's here,
Wrapped up in hope -
Another year! 

John Updike

This poem is my favorite poem about Christmas. I read it with a childlike sense of wonder and my eyes mysteriously fill with tears as I read "Old carols peal, The dusk is dense. There is a mood of sweet suspense"

My husband later told me Updike was cynical and that this poem was probably meant to point out how much of a let down new years is. He's too smart for his own good. I like my nostalgic version and I'm keeping it. 

Old carols peal. The dusk is dense. 

I automatically hear the soft strains of a choir singing Silent Night as the lights dim to only candle light in a church on Christmas Eve.

There is a mood of sweet suspense. 

I automatically know the feeling of leaving church, drowsy but excited because it's finally Christmas! It's midnight! We have so much to look forward to! 

This mixture of melancholy and magic is what inspired me as I sat down to paint the new calendar. That and a whole lot of creative genius and hustle thanks to incredibly talented, Kelly of Winifred Paper. Together we created an excruciatingly beautiful new collection. Really - I had to use the word excruciating. That's how good it is. It's as soft as Silent Night floating over midnight snow and simultaneously as cheerful and buoyant as Christmas morning. Perfection. 

It's been a long time coming. I've been waiting to reveal it to you, seemingly forever. And I cannot wait for you to be able to own it finally officially TOMORROW!

I began work on it in April. And I began with thoughts of this poem and a few words of my own, which I will share with you here, unedited. Because reading things I wrote six months ago is like reading the work of a very eager first grader. Endearing. And you don't want to crush her enthusiasm... 

Without further ado, I give you the story behind 2016. 

A whole year in the future. Whose to say what it will look like. It's a little bit like looking into a crystal ball. I feel like a witch with thick knuckles stretched over with leathery skin punctuated with opalescent rings. I can visualize running these hands over a great crystal ball.

But I can’t visualize whats inside.

What will change? The shapes of the heels on our shoes, the shapes of our lives? I've never started a new calendar by writing, but it feels necessary this year. 

I've been thinking alot about beginnings, how beginnings are everything. Beginnings generate middles and ends, and then ultimately new beginnings.

How life is a big series of cause and effect chain reactions, building on eachother, fractalized and imperfect, layered, intertwined. i am inspired by this, by history. 

History and how it writes the future. How generations intertwine and impact one another. You have your father's smile, Your grandmother's silk scarves, your great aunts favorite still life, your sister’s stubbornness. 

We are all gypsies, traveling through time and space, unmoored except for these generational histories that ground us in an experience we can compare and understand in context of all the random flotsam around us. The universe would feel intolerably vast, hopeless even, if it werent for the comforts of running our fingers absent mindedly over the age-smoothed surface of our grandfather’s class ring, worn on a gold chain tucked inside a crisp white button down. 

The 2016 girl is equal parts gypsy, heiress, aspiring astrologer, adventurer, romantic sentimentalist. She's grown up enough, experienced enough to realize she has much more growing to do. She realizes her ancestors, her parents even, have wisedom she can call on. And that where she came from matters for where she’s going. 

Yes, she’s grown up, but she’s still a keeping a child like spark in her heart. She has secrets, superstitions, dreams. Theres more to come and the future is going to be grand no matter the shape of our heels on our shoes.


 I hope the breathlessly exuberant first grader that was Inslee-in-April has left you intrigued and ready to get your hands on this excruciatingly beautiful product. Start your engines, my friends, tomorrow is Calendar Day! 



2 Responses

November 12, 2015

I’ve received my beautiful calendar
Thank you

Stephanie Fowler
Stephanie Fowler

November 03, 2015

I’ll forever love your Calendar Girls – 2016 is simply stunning Inslee, you’ve outdone yourself. I never fail to find inspiration in looking at your work – it is so bright and beautiful!

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