“What is the Coronavirus doing on my Christmas card?” I said aloud as I opened the envelope, immediately recognizing the familiar image of the virus.
As we stand at the threshhold of 2022, looking warily at a potential third year of living with COVID, a fabric artist in upstate New York fearlessly tapped into the collective zeitgeist of this era for her 2021 Christmas card.
Mary Ward’s quilted, handmade card features a cross-section of a Coronavirus cell portrayed as a drum beating against the backdrop of holiday jingle bells. Inside the card is the title, “And the Beat Goes On.”
The annual exchanging of Christmas cards is still a vibrant tradition for many of us and especially welcome since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 – a warm reminder that we are well-surrounded by family and friends, even though we remain separated by a virus that keeps us six feet apart.
I am grateful to be on Mary Ward’s Christmas card list and have kept every one of her miniature quilted works of art. This year’s card, however, shocked me; it spoke volumes about how deeply the pandemic has been ingrained in our psyche, that the virus might not completely disappear anytime soon and how we may be changed forever by the experience.
Mary Ward is an accomplished fabric artist whose quilts and quilted wall art tell stories as they convey her artistic message through fabric and design. For the past two decades, she has been sending out quilted Christmas cards as gifts to personal friends and family.
Simple, nature-inspired symbols such as trees, birds and stars are a reflection of the rural environment in which she lives and works.
The 2020 pandemic, however, prompted the artist to break from her traditional holiday symbolism.
“This pandemic was like nothing any of us had ever experienced,” she said. “I wanted to make my 2020 Christmas card reflect this historical moment, never expecting we’d still be in the midst of it today in 2021. The 2020 card was a snowman wearing a mask with a version of the words to a favorite Karen Carpenter tune, ‘Sing A Song.’ In the very beginning of the pandemic people were still allowed to meet in person at church but not sing the hymns. I couldn’t imagine not singing the hymns. So the snowman wore a mask and the words were ‘Hum, hum a tune.'”
“Now here we are in 2021, still masking and still dealing with COVID, so another historically themed card seemed necessary. Making a Corona cell into a Christmas ball was suggested to me and I came across a cross-section of a cell online. Making that into a drum came next, along with the phrase: ‘and the beat goes on.’ It’s my way of saying, ‘Hang in there my friends and loved ones, together we will get through this’ and wishing them a Healthy New Year.”
Hum a tune
Hum out loud
Hum out strong
Hum of good things, not bad
Hum of happy, not sad.
Hum a tune
Make it simple
To last our whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Hum a tune
(with thanks to The Carpenters)
Like many of us, I too am looking at 2022 with a combination of hope and trepidation, but I am already looking forward to my next Mary Ward Christmas card in December. Hopefully it’ll be a Christmas tree.
Wishing all of you Happiness, Prosperity and Healing in 2022.
Here is more of Mary Ward’s work to enjoy.