Christmas Decorations


I wish all the visitors to my blog a guardedly optimistic but nevertheless happy Christmas Season and I thank those who have demonstrated confidence by choosing to follow it. Penny and I intend to get out of doors, whatever the weather, on Christmas Morning and walk some of the nearby beaches and trails looking for overwintering birds – and when we see some we will thank them for being there.

I have put together a sampling of Christmas materials, some drawing from a collection of home-made Christmas cards I produced over many years. Also included are photographs of Christmas wall installations organized for our church (the First Unitarian Church of Victoria) with the willing help of other members. Among these offerings are scattered a few poems.

The Covid-19 epidemic has spurred personal creativity of all sorts, much of it offered to local communities. I find this very encouraging. I hope this creativity endures both during and after these difficult times.

Bringing home the tree (linoleum cut) circa 1980

Before the fireplace (silk screen print) circa 1985

Santa Canoe (linoleum cut) circa 1990

Royal Winter Fair, Toronto, Ontario (silk screen print) circa 1975

Snowflakes (silk screen print) circa 1995

A search for clarity
admitting flaws
allows the truth
to glimmer from within.

On your knees,
search for broken stars
among dried blades of grass


Christmas Wall Decorations at the First Unitarian Church of Victoria BC

These stars and mandalas are made from spilt red cedar, red dogwood twigs and other local natural materials. They have become “traditional” Christmas/Winter Solstice decorations and are installed from mid-December to mid-January each winter.

In the autumn of 2010 an unexpectedly large (over 30 million fish) Sockeye Salmon run entered the Fraser River to spawn upstream in the river itself and its many tributaries. Almost 4 million salmon spawned in the Adams river, a tributary of the South Thompson River system, one of the main tributaries of the Fraser. Many people travelled to the area to view the spectacle of this huge run of brilliantly red spawning salmon. We were among them.

Sockeye salmon swimming upstream to spawn in the Adams river BC. October 2010

It is not an exaggeration to say that salmon are sacred to many British Columbia residents, both indigenous folks and settlers. It seemed fitting to represent them in a church.

Spawning salmon montage (corrugated cardboard, spray paint) with celestial harmony mandala (wood, Masonite, cardboard, red yarn, paint)
Spawning salmon montage -detail

A large silver salmon was included near the front of the shoal of migrating salmon. This fish could be imagined as the guiding salmon spirit. When one of our Ministers asked me about the silver fish I told her it could be the Jesus Fish.

In 2012 we chose snowflakes and stars as emblems of natural beauty at both large and small scales.

Stars and Snow montage (Styrofoam insulation, spray paint, caulking compound, building paper. glass beads)
Stars and Snow – detail

Between Stars and Snow

The stars emit a distant light
indifferent to worshipful gaze.
When snowflakes touch an upturned face
they feel like kisses turned to tears
but leave no bitter trace.

Oh there is such a gap
‘tween what we think we know
and what we know we feel.
We’re lost between the stars and snow;
we fail to find out proper place.
Yet in the dark of Solstice Eve
shine glimmerings of grace.


14 thoughts on “Christmas Decorations

  1. Thanks Farrell and Penny I especially enjoy all your salmon drawings. I shall forward to my son who works with salmon fry in the Skeena area and one of his young friends is building a big wire salmon sculpture to install in the First Nations village. here is our newsletter but no alas no original art Cheers, Christine

    On Sat, Dec 19, 2020 at 7:55 PM Poems, Pictures and Stories wrote:

    > fmboyce posted: ” Introduction I wish all the visitors to my blog > a guardedly optimistic but nevertheless happy Christmas > Season and I thank those who have demonstrated confidence by choosing to > follow it. Penny and I intend to get out of doors, whatever t” >


  2. Thanks for sharing Dad! Ioved seeing the old Christmas Cards. The school of salmon are a wonderful addition to any space. Jesus Salmon…. you should make T-shirts!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you,Farrell for this wonderful metaphor for renewal and a fresh start. The JF leads all to the spawning and rebirth and a new generation. The winter solstice reverses the Sun in its downward path and promises rebirth and a new beginning. I never saw it before you showed me, but long ago and far away in Raspberry Jam’s Christmas in another Unitarian Church, Sam Magee was stuffed into the boiler fire and emerges warm and renewed.

    How fortunate we are to have a winter from which spring and renewal are born.

    Signs of Winter
    Three invariable signs that winter is here:
    This morning, milk bottles frozen on the front stoop,
    This afternoon, the door jambed with squeaky frost,
    Tonight in bed, a woman wearing only my woolen socks.

    (Hopefully another new beginning ?)


  4. Hi Dad,
    I love your Christmas cards and the decorations. I remember learning how to do linocuts and silkscreen prints as a kid when you showed us how. I think my first printmaking projects were Christmas cards. Really enjoyed the process of those. I was always curious to see what design you would create for your card.

    Those salmon decorations for the church, and the other ones, are excellent.

    A few words by Wendell Berry that are good for today, winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Thinking of all the tree seeds out there on the forest floor under fallen leaves and snow during the winter – with stored energy and potential to grow

    “The seed is in the ground.
    Now may we rest in hope,
    while darkness does its work.”
    ~ Wendell Berry


  5. Hi Farrell and Penny,

    A pleasure to see another rich offering, including many familiar and treasured scenes from the walls of our sanctuary. How right that we honor our coastal traditions there. We have also walked beside the Sockeye in the Adams River and had our souls stirred by the sight.

    Solstice! A revered time, as we turn again towards the sun. Alas, it is snowing at the moment.


    Don and Clare Vipond


  6. Farrell, this takes me on a journey into times past when you’d break out in a new song, twisting words and images around cords of familiar melodies. ah it’s a pleasure and a blessing to be your friend. I’ve derived much inspiration from your creativity and enthusiasm for a grand life. May you and Penny enjoy good health and many walks no matter the weather! love to you both, Heather


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