Mrs. Blanche stood aghast leaning over my picture. I caught the alarm in her voice as she said, “Virginia Ann, don’t you know that Christmas colors are red and green?” I heard the chorus of alarm echoed from my classmates who obviously knew this important fact.
The object of concern was a picture of a bell mimeographed for each of the fourth grade students to color, the closest we ever came to having “art” in my elementary school. All of us knew the bell should be silver – or maybe light black if we didn’t have the big box of crayons. Everybody else, it seemed, knew that the bow should be either green or red. I chose my favorite color at the time – blue. No note was taken of how carefully I had stayed in the lines or even that my strokes were neatly all in the same direction.
My mistake reigned for the rest of the season as our room was decorated with the identical bells posted around the room, all but one colored with red or green ribbons. My shame at my blue ribbon faced me every day. Mrs. Blanche was actually a good teacher, and my classmates were good friends most of the time. All the same, the episode took root in my mind.
I thought about my blue ribbon picture as I entered the sanctuary of our church this week. Our church follows the liturgical seasons and colors. Banners, ribbons, and even the pastors’ stoles featured the same beautiful blue that I had used on my bell – the color symbolizing Hope. A little part of me wanted to recall Mrs. Blanche and my fellow students, and say, “See. I was right all along.”
Just in case you missed them, I’m going to be like Aesop and give you some morals to this story:
• Multiple copies of the same picture for children to color following a prescribed pattern does not constitute an art lesson.
• If children need correction, it is not necessary to embarrass them publicly.
• It’s okay – and maybe even better – to be blue in a red and green world.
• Children have long memories. Be careful what you say to them.