The 2012 Early Kringle Award

Every year, Esteban and I grant a (purely ceremonial and very silly) award to the first friend(s) whose holiday card we receive. Once again, the four-years-running champions are our dear friends Jim and John.

Their 2012 card was entirely too appropriate for this incurable Francophile. I will treasure it among my favorite keepsakes.

But beyond the card’s exterior beauty, I also loved its deeper symbolism: The royal fleur-de-lis, the beautiful scrollwork, and the gold stars on the rich blue background immediately reminded me of the Sainte-Chapelle, which was built to house Jesus’ crown of thorns.

I really must write about this extraordinary place sometime.

But in the meantime, congrats to Jim and John. Please call to claim your sushi dinner!


  1. Oh, oh, TOO beautiful! I’m sure that card is made by Il Papiro, the Florentine stationery company who had an irresistible boutique right near my hotel in Venice. Their work is exquisite.

    And the Sainte Chapelle is probably my favourite building in the whole of medieval Europe! Ever since first seeing it I-can’t-remember-how-many-years-ago, I have dreamed of having a study with groined vaulting and a deep blue ceiling painted with golden stars. The painted stone of the lower chapel inspires me even more than the soaring glasswork of the upper chapel.

    Yes, there is so much to write about this place. The thought and faith behind it. The king who almost bankrupted his kingdom for a holy relic. A whole building designed as a reliquary for this most precious relic in Christendom. Its survival (unlike the Crown of Thorns) through the French Revolution, despite being used as – what was it? – a cow shed? an arsenal? Oh, please at least give us more photos of this most beautiful of thoughts in stone.

    On a more prosaic note – raptures temporarily over! – congratulations to Jim and John on retaining your title! We received our first Christmas card yesterday. I’m afraid I was much more curmudgeonly in my reaction than you: I can’t get my head around Christmas before it’s even Advent. Your approach is an inspiration! 🙂

    • Holy cow, DB! I think you’re probably right about the origin of this beautiful card, because it says “Made in Italy” on the back — and also because Jim and John were in Venice recently. What a wonderfully small world!

      And when I get around to the Ste. Chapelle post, may I please borrow your prose (with due credit, of course)? If I’d toiled on the paragraph you wrote for an entire week, I don’t think I could have done a better job of summarizing both the history and the wondrous effect of this place. I will put that post on the fast track, if only to show you a few more photos.

      As for those Christmas cards that are bringing out the pre-Advent curmudgeon in you, well, bon courage. I empathize, my dear — but I think we’d sooner turn back the tide than slow the flood of commercial Yuletide mania. 😐

      • You’ve got me sparkly with anticipation now at a Ste.Chapelle post. Of course you can borrow my prose, though you’ll probably need to polish a bit. I open my mouth, and these curlicued rambling sentences drop out… 🙂
        Tomorrow will be the start of Advent, and I shall get over myself and start to feel all Christmassy. Bring on the commercial Yuletide mania! And the exquisite Florentine Christmas cards too! Yay!

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