Christmas remains an inexhaustible source of poetic inspiration, deep
religious feelings, and tender but persistent invitation to open our minds and hearts
to the mystery of God incarnate. Scripture and the apocryphal gospels tell the story,
the liturgy celebrates its ever-present reality. Many devotions centering on the grace
of Christmas help us to make of our heart a manger to hold and cherish the Christ
Child. Finally, poetry tops it all: a Christmas poem should remind us of the story;
evoke sentiments of gratitude and praise, and generate in us a sense of wonder and
undying hope. The following--poetry as word and symbol--would like to do just
that: promote where necessary but mainly entertain the spirit of the season. The
poems offered here are from many sources; the pictures, however, all bear the
unmistakable mark of Lauren Ford's artistic genius.
Lauren Ford was born in New York City in 1891. Her mother was Julia Ellsworth Ford,
"the author of many books and plays for children." Her father was Simeon Ford, owner of the
Grand Union Hotel, a man of famous wit, and a popular public speaker. According to Julia Ford,
Lauren began to draw at age four. Lauren studied art with George Bridgman and Frank V. du
Mond. In 1973, Lauren Ford passed away at the age of eighty-two. During her life, Ford painted many works of a religious nature.
The artwork of Lauren Ford has been presented in such distinguished galleries as the
Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York, and can be found "among the treasures of discriminating private
collectors." Life magazine featured Lauren Ford's work in several of its issues. Lauren Ford's
cards at Christmas time have been received and treasured by many Americans. Critics have
praised Ford's work for being "tender," "fanciful," and "picturesque."
During her life, Ford lived a "simple" and "independent" life on her working farm near
Bethlehem, Connecticut, surrounded by family and friends. She received a "continual procession
of interesting guests from all over the world." The gracious Connecticut countryside and her farm
animals appear in much of her work. The Nativity scene is frequently pictured in her own barn.
The Nativity scene is the subject of Ford's exquisite Christmas cards, which are treasured
throughout the year by their delighted recipients.
During her life, Ford published three books: Our Lady's Book, The Ageless Story, and
Lauren Ford's Christmas Book. In each of these books, Ford combined her artwork with her own
lyric prose to interpret the Marian aspects of the Bible and the Christian tradition.
The pictures by Lauren Ford are from postcards (American Artists Group, NY) at
the Marian Library, Lauren Ford's Christmas Book (Dodd, Mead, and Company, New York 1963)
and The Ageless Story (Dodd, Mead, and Company, New York 1939). The Christmas Book is
based on Scripture texts from St. Luke's Gospel. The Ageless Story is based on Marian Antiphons.
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