For several years, I’ve had this painting in a frame. On a desk, on my wall, in a drawer… depending on where I’ve been living and what I’ve been doing for these past two decades:

This is a watercolour painted by my late great-uncle Allan, whom I met when I visited England in 1989. It’s a depiction of the ruins of Roche Abbey in Maltby, Yorkshire. Its downfall was precipitated by the actions of King Henry VIII etc. etc. (a subject of a future post).

When I moved away from home I snagged it because I loved the painting, and because I’ve been to these ruins.

However, recently, I experienced a very pleasant surprise. I decided to replace the frame for this painting and found a message from the past – a Christmas message. It seems this was a holiday card that my father (going by his previous-life “Ricky” nickname) folded and framed. As per Allan’s instructions:

When I met my great uncle during my teenaged 1989 trip, he was delightful. He was funny, generous and gave me a bunch of really cool coins. His wife, my grandmother’s sister, my great-aunt Alice, was equally generous, and I had the pleasure of re-meeting her when she came to Canada a dozen years later for my sister’s wedding – my sister being the “Sallie” mentioned in the card.

I will refold and reframe this watercolour, but this time I am aware of the magical Christmas message that lies behind.

Have a smashing Xmas, everyone.