The Countdown Begins!

Day 1 - Vintage Christmas Lights Watercolor Sketchbook - Doodlewash

This marks the start of a brand new month and another Doodlewash adventure. This one is all about the popular icons seen this time of year. I realize not everyone on the planet celebrates Christmas, but for me, it’s a glittering month of lights and love. Sure, okay, my inner child pretty much loses it this time of year and I’m so excited for the moments with family and fun traditions ahead. Philippe and I each have our own chocolate advent calendar (one German, one Swiss) as well as a Lego advent calendar (Danish) each year, so we’ll be starting those this evening. We usually pair them with rather adult chocolate in the form of tiny boozy bottles (also Danish), but Costco failed us this evening as they were totally out of them. I’m quite certain, because I nearly climbed those tall shelves on the side in order to check properly. I was more than a bit sad that they’ll be missing the start of this year’s countdown. Not for the booze, of course, but for that extra bit of ritual. These little once-a-year rituals are what I love most about this time of year. It’s filled with unique and wonderful things that will only return one achingly long year from now. So, I’m ready to enjoy them to the fullest!

I’ll be completely honest, my favorite bits are mostly the food traditions. I’m rather sure that I’ve already started drooling in my dreams. We just placed our order for our guinea fowl and liver for Philippe’s legendary foie gras. The latter is something nearly none of our friends enjoy, but thankfully, our friend Aesha is a fan so she’ll be joining us over the holidays to partake. As a kid, my Christmas food was just a repeat of Thanksgiving with the introduction of ham. Though a festive cake and some cookies might have made an appearance, it was primarily the same pies all over again. It just wasn’t very memorable. So, I’ve simply adopted all of Philippe’s traditions instead, saving only my beloved blueberry muffins on Christmas Day morning. Those were the one food tradition that felt unique to the season as my mother always made them for me while I was tearing into my gifts. And no matter what cool thing I got that year, those muffins were my favorite gift of all. I still remember the smell of them baking and how easy it was to leave my wonderful presents in that moment and simply enjoy a delicious bite.

So many of my cherished memories are these simple moments. The ones that didn’t require a holiday at all, but it simply made for a rather good excuse to do some special little thing. We had a neighbor who would always bake us cookies at the holidays and though I had those same cookies before at our school functions, they somehow tasted better when they were presented as a gift. Popcorn that you could literally buy all year long suddenly came in a circular tub with festive artwork and it was then the best popcorn in the world. My mom usually has a tub of it when we visit and I devour it like it’s rare gourmet. This is the season that best reminds us of those simple things in life. It’s the season that connects us with our heritage and our imagined past. And it’s a time of giving and giving back to those who have a special place in our lives. That, to me, makes it the most wonderful time of year! These are days that can move so slowly and then suddenly seem to pass too quickly. Before I know it, January has arrived and this year is simply another memory. Yet, I’m as enthralled as ever to begin the journey and, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m squealing with delight and wonder as the countdown begins!

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Day 1 - Vintage Christmas Lights Watercolor Sketchbook - Doodlewash
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

25 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 1 week ago

    I love the way your lights glow! I love all the food this time of year, but try to limit the damage by avoiding most of it except on the official holidays themselves. I’m pretty good at it – I make the sign of the cross and shout ‘Begone! Begone!’ at anyone who approaches with tempting food. I get odd looks, but by gum, they don’t come around with food anymore!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕haha!! I love that you shoo food away like vampires. Very resourceful! lol And I admire your willpower… I have only the bit that stops myself from indulging by purchasing treats, but if they come to my home, like vampires invited, I simply must succumb!

  2. Lisa 1 week ago

    Those old fashioned lights that burned if you touched them! Still better than the ones we have now!

    One of the Christmas memories that I love was my father’s insistence that the tree lights had to go in near the trunk and the tinsel had to go on the tree, one strand at a time! No clumping! It was a great family joke as I grew up.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      That’s a wonderful memory, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, I have to agree with the no clumping rule. It’s just a better all around aesthetic really. 😉

  3. Sharon Nolfi 1 week ago

    Yours look like the lights we had on my childhood Christmas trees! Why are today’s tree lights so small? My Christmas memories are wrapped up with my mother’s incredible cooking and baking. She would make multiple batches of 15 kinds of cookies – then arrange them on platters to give as gifts. Of course, there were plenty left for us at home, too. She was super organized and let me help. Those were truly wonderful times. Once again, thanks for evoking joyful memories.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks, Sharon!😃💕 Exactly?? What happened to the giant lights!? The ones that you could see from across the room! hehe… loved them most! And now I’m drooling through your memory of your mother’s cookies… 15 varieties?? Heaven!!

  4. Mary Roff 1 week ago

    Wonderful post, Charlie! The good Christmas memories, for me, always seem to be about the traditions.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Yeah, traditions are the best part about this season! Hope yours is a merry one!

  5. LoriCtoo 1 week ago

    Your lights are glowing! So cool. I love Christmas traditions. One of my Midwest traditions, that I kept up and stiil do with our son (he’s 19) is the visit of St. Nick on Dec. 5th. Out here in the West, it is not celebrated. Let me tell you, there were a few years when it got a little tricky when the 5th was during the week and he went to school. I was so afraid he would discuss it with his friends. My solution, I changed St. Nick’s arrival to the first weekend. Problem solved! By Monday, it was all forgotten. At least that is what I told myself. The “Santa Claus” issue has never been discussed and I never want to know when he stopped believing. You know, “When you stop believing, you get underwear.” 😛

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 hahaha! SO true on Santa! That’s exactly why I REFUSE to ever stop believing! Getting underwear for Christmas is a tragedy I have thankfully always avoided. To this day, I still get toys! Yay! But I’m in the Midwest and we never had the visit from St. Nick on the 5th. What happens?? I must know so we can celebrate it! hehe

      • LoriCtoo 1 week ago

        We would each hang one of my dad’s long red toe socks on a different door handle on the night of Dec. 5th. St. Nicholas would come in the night. In the morning we would wake to a full sock of candy and fruit, along with one small present. It is an old German tradition. I never thought about not having fancy stockings growing up. I guess this is why. Hmmm, mystery solved.

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 7 days ago

          hehe! I love that tradition!! We’ll have to start it in our house! 🙂 Yeah, you know me, any chance to get more treats and I’m in!

  6. Nancy 1 week ago

    Wonderful holiday food memories! We always have cinnamon buns on Christmas morning but I’d be quite happy with blueberry muffins as well. Some other treats I remember from my childhood is the Bowl of ribbon candy my grandmother put out and the bowl of mixed nuts in the shell that mom had. I loved to crack open the walnuts with the silver pliers and pick out the insides. Can’t wait to see the rest of you holiday posts!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Nancy! 😃💕 Yes to all of those wonderful memories!! hehe… we had them as well! I’ve sketched the ribbon candy and walnuts, but you’re reminded me that I’ve yet to sketch those blueberries muffins! On the list!! hehe

  7. evachristensenart 1 week ago

    Charlie, ink and watercolour is one of my favourite mediums and I absolutely love how the colour of the lights is cast on the background here – it is the kind of subject matter that watercolours were intended for. Looking forward to following your holiday posts.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 days ago

      Thank you so much! 😃💕 Thrilled you liked this and hope you enjoy this month’s posts! I adore ink and watercolour as well, as you can tell, and it’s so much fun to paint this season. Hope you’ll check out my podcast as well… tomorrow the holiday episode launches… https://doodlewash.com/sketching-stuff-podcast/

      • evachristensenart 7 days ago

        I trained in watercolour first, and even though I mainly work in acrylic and oil now I always go back to watercolour for my “fun” projects. It’s just such a clean and honest medium. Thanks again – I will check out your podcast!

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 6 days ago

          What a great description of watercolour! 😃💕I totally agree.. I think that’s why I love it best! And thanks for checking out my podcast!!

  8. smzang 7 days ago

    Charlie says, “it’s a time of giving and giving back to those who have a special place in our lives. That, to me, makes it the most wonderful time of year!” Yes!

    as for those lights…They bring back such memories. that’s the kind we used on our tree in the 50s. We always had a cedar because there was an abundance of shapely, fragrant cedars on our farm My dad would put the strings of lights on and then it was up to my sisters and me to do the rest of the decorating. This time of year every day is a holiday. The air is crisp and the eyes are sparkling with anticipation, not to mention that the scents wafting from the oven are a source of sighs.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 days ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 You just made me smell and taste exactly why I love this season! Thank you for that!! I think your holiday memories are perfectly beautiful!

  9. tripdupinceau 6 days ago

    Hello Charlie,

    Last year, I had so much fun and learned so much in drawing and watercolor while reproducing your daily drawings during Christmas time, that this year I started my own ‘countdown’.

    I realize that there is nothing like your drawings and stories to bring me into the Christmas mood.

    Thank you very much for this.

    Diane

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 days ago

      Thanks fantastic, Diane! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled you were inspired! And it’s fabulous that this year it’s your own countdown. Joyeux Noël!❤️

  10. Anita Sinha 5 days ago

    Very nice doodlewash! I think this is the first time in my life that I am going to learn about christmas and celebrate it too..with paintings and the holiday spirit…

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 days ago

      Thanks so much, Anita! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, it’s really just the holiday spirit I adore most. There’s something glittery and magical about happiness and joy that deserves to be sketched!

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