Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the holiday season. Some people revel in it while others dread it. I belong in the latter category. I was reminded of this by a friend/ex-coworker/fellow Scrooge as we commiserated during lunch last week over missing our traditional annual pilgrimage to FAO Schwartz toy store to offset the seasonal doldrums that overtake us this time of year. Perhaps missing our excursion was fortuitous since a previous and somewhat infamous visit to hunt down a Dill Pickles Rugrat doll for my youngest brought the throngs of harried toy shoppers to a standstill when my friend, atop the second floor escalator, spied the the Rugrat doll on display, and yelled loudly to me on the first floor “I found your Dill doll!” It might be time for a new tradition.
I established my own new Thanksgiving ritual. For me, this was a Hubert Thanksgiving. Husband and children off to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, guests not scheduled to arrive for hours, I popped the turkey in the oven and escaped the confines of my kitchen to take advantage of the solitude. Like King Midas (albeit in a grease-stained apron) admiring all of his gold I surrounded myself with all of my Huberts to marvel at and examine again for clues. Like reading a book for the second time there are always new details to discover that might have been overlooked before. This time I focused on Le Musee de Cluny which I have in triplicate, acquired on three separate occasions. One is numbered 155/500, titled and signed with the words “original etching in color, painted copper plate, made in France” imprinted on the frame’s paper backing. The other two etchings are titled and signed but not numbered and the colors on these two appear more vibrant. What is the significance, if any, of this new evidence? I’m not sure but perhaps the books I ordered on the history of French etching will clarify. And the plot thickens!
Midas may have turned everything to gold with his Midas touch but my turkey almost turned to ashes so I quickly returned to the kitchen where, in between basting my turkey and Tofurkey, I composed my Chasing Hubert Plan to quell my impending holiday malaise. Feeling a bit like Nancy Drew, amateur sleuth, I’ve compiled a list – a system of order, an agenda, to better organize my hunt. Beginning with contacting museums first (French, Belgian, and American), moving on to art organizations (is there a French Etchers Society?), then universities and art schools, galleries, auction houses, print experts, and finally, anyone who will listen to me relate my Hubert obsession, including, but not limited to, shopping mall Santas. Hopefully, one of these venues will render a hit or at least a worthwhile clue. A curious side note – none of my Hubert etchings seem to take place in winter. Could Hubert, like me, be averse to the holiday season?
So there you have it, my Chasing Hubert Plan. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. All the better to take my mind off the fact that the holiday season like it or not is here, that there are only 25 shopping days left in which to fight the crowds and no way to return to the days when a couple of oranges in your stocking was considered a special treat. But on the bright side, my favorite day of the year – December 26th – is on the horizon. And then I can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I have 364 days until I have to do it all over again…