Finding New Traditions for the Holidays

By Teresa Mandala

Finding New Traditions for the Holidays

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It’s that time of year again. The Holidays are back! And if you are anything like me you don’t get too terribly excited with its arrival. Growing up, holidays were always an extremely stressful time full of work and unreachable expectations.

As an adult I vowed to do things differently. My approach has ebbed and flowed throughout the years, but the main goal has never wavered – connecting with people that I care about.

When my daughter was young I wanted her to learn about giving, not just receiving. So, every year my daughter earned money doing chores around the house. She would use that money to purchase craft supplies and make gifts for everyone in our family. Creating and giving became synonymous during the holidays for us.

Now that my daughter is grown and lives out-of-state I have found other traditions to fill my time during the holidays. One of my favorite new traditions is painting holiday windows in downtown Clearwater. I have been honored to be asked back for the last three years.



The last two years I’ve asked my friend and fellow artist, James Hartzell to partner up with me. I couldn’t have asked for a more reliable painting partner. It’s amazing what you can do with a good collaborator!

This year we were commissioned to paint eight businesses. Working with each business we received direction and then sketched designs. After approval we would use chalk pen to sketch the design on the window and then fill it in with white paint. It usually takes two coats to make it opaque and an additional two coats for any red and green areas.

Even in November, painting outside in Florida can be brutal. I’ve experienced both really cold and really hot days. Windows with a dark mirror reflection often heat up from the sun and burn our hands.

By far, the best part of this endeavor was meeting and talking with several bystanders who passed. They would cheer us on and some stopped to discuss things happening in the community.

One thing was very clear, the importance of public art in the community. Art brings people together. It is a doorway to connection.


Some Of This Year’s Windows


Make sure to head down to Downtown Clearwater to check out all of the displays. James and I were among eight artists painting holiday windows this year. Most of ours are on Garden & Cleveland streets.
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You can explore the work of Teresa Mandala at
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