Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shaped by my Christmases past

My interest in cartoons didn't just happen. My father was a good artist with a particular talent for cartooning that he never really developed but which gave him and those close to him a great deal of pleasure over the years. It also provided some pleasure for those not close, since they'd get the annual Christmas card each year to show them what the Peterson clan was up to now.

This was the card in 1953, when my brother Tony was the news -- that's him in the manger at six months, with me the surprised magi and my older siblings, Rick and Frances, playing Mary and Joseph. And that's dear old dad in the background, playing the puzzled patriarch as he generally did when he appeared in the cards.

For years, I thought his being a child of the Depression and of parents who were nose-to-the-grindstone types had stifled an artistic career, and perhaps it did, but he and I spoke about it as we each grew older and he truly didn't seem to regret MIT and his years as an engineer. I think the artwork was a pleasant hobby that he could put some effort into but that he didn't really want to try to turn into the main focus of his life, which was his family. It did mean that we had some interesting cartoon collections around the house, however, as well as a willing reader to us of the Sunday funnies.

In any case, he was a very, very serious man, as the photo below demonstrates. Much too solemn for cartooning.

I went over and spent the evening with Johanna and Tobias and their parents tonight, and tomorrow I will drive up to Plattsburgh to see the rest of my grandchildren and their parents.

Christmas is a good time to be a grandfather, particularly if you had some good training in that whole how-to-be-a-dad thing. And I did.

Merry Christmas.


Anonymous said...

You are the best, bro! This might be my favorite Christmas gift. (I've framed Dad's Christmas cards, hung them on the stairway and keep them up all year.)

Sis in Sleepy Hollow

Neurotic Chic said...

Oh Mike... What a nice little Christmas present to the rest of us. This is my favorite blog post by you ever.

Niece Kim

Sherwood Harrington said...

He looks so happy, Mike. I wish I had a picture of my dad with that expression. Dad exhibited it frequently, as I recall, but it's just not on celluloid anywhere.

At our age, we should think to grin into cameras, whether we feel like it or not, right?

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Well now that i've gotten around to zooming it and looking at the cool details ... if this is what he did when he'd never really developed his talent, then wow.