The Census At Bethlehem by Pieter Brueghel The Elder
Early this year, I was hit with a premonition. We were driving up to the mountains and I saw a man walking along the side of the highway. I can't remember any particular thing about him but for some reason he struck me forcibly as the iconic tramp, a symbol, like The Walker in The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper (with which I was obsessed as a pre-teen) or Strider from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I was still musing over why I saw him as a tramp and not just a stranded motorist, and also considering the ancient origin of the term "highway", when we passed a wooden wagon full of hay straight out of a Brueghel painting. The wagon wasn't in a farm yard or anything, just in a clearing by the road. It wasn't the kind of wagon you could attach to a vehicle and I have no idea how it got there. I suddenly had the impression we were hurtling backwards through time, driving inexorably into the past. As it turned out, I was somewhat correct. The arrival of the pandemic, the medieval quarantine, the slowing of life's pace are all experiences our ancestors would recognize. The year seemed to freeze us in amber, or at least in some viscous miasma we had to drag ourselves through, every movement labored and spotlighted. There were some blessings; I didn't miss our usual hectic summer sports rolling into the even more frenetic holidays. It has been especially hard on the children, however. They miss their friends and their usual activities. It was worsened by our daughter's advent of back pain and subsequent diagnosis with scoliosis. Swimming, her favorite sport and the activity most recommended by her osteopath, was closed to her.
And of course, the year has been a disaster for so many. The past again: bread lines, famine, mass unemployment, and the complete absence of any government relief. People have been left to sink or swim alone. Our town Santa Claus died of COVID, as did a high school friend. My sister's entire family caught it, though they seem to have come through okay, thankfully. I did the only thing I could think to help and wrote my Doll University book and Tiny Budget Tiny Cabin books. These teach you to set up your own home-based doll repair business as well as get into a tiny home as cheaply and quickly as possible. I fervently hope my advice helps you turn this year from the past into a prosperous, or at least stable, new future.
Here's to 2021. May we take only the good with us into the new year. Happy New Year, from Atelier Mandaline!
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.