> Grandma Moses and the Christmas Tree

Grandma Moses and the Christmas Tree


By Sister Myra Richards

I am fascinated by the painting of Anna Mary Robertson, better known as Grandma Moses. Her complexity of characters, buildings, animals…her style all unravel in every piece of art the life journey of one special lady.

Some friends called me Grandma Moses when I shared some of my first paintings with them. I believe I am identified as such because of my age.

Grandma pursued her life’s dream of painting when she reached her 70s. I began dappling when I was about seventy-nine.

I especially like her painting “Christmas at Home, “wherein she painted a gigantic Christmas tree. I tried to duplicate her painting and ended up with a tree every bit as big…yes, even larger. It struck my ‘funny bone’ when I looked at it, and I had a hearty laugh alone in my room. Even now, I find joy and happiness in just looking at it. It is so big and beautiful…a sign of new life.

In researching the history of Christmas trees, I came upon the story of St. Boniface, who did a great service of evangelizing the area of Germany where our original Sisters lived.

The inhabitants of Geismar gathered annually around ‘The Thunder Oak,’ a tree dedicated to the god Thor, and they sacrificed to the god, a human, usually a child.

St. Boniface arrived at the scene and, wishing to enkindle the fire of Christ in those gathered, grabbed an axe and chopped down the tree.

Pointing to the tree, St. Boniface said: “This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace sign of an endless life, for the leaves are evergreen. See how it points to heaven-word. Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wild wood but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”