I love old radiators.
When we bought The Inn*, there was a lot of broken… floors… windows… ceilings… I don’t mean, ‘sort of not working’ broken. I mean ‘holes where stuff like wood and glass and plaster used to be’ broken.
Yet, in and amongst the broken and missing were these radiators… romantic, history-infused radiators in my new-to-me old house. My brain screamed, “SAVE THEM!”
Images wafted in and around my mind’s eye… mittens drying, hats and scarves warming. My mind’s ear heard voices warning small hands ought not to get too close, and I could feel myself rubbing my own, chilled hands slowly over the gentle heat.
The radiator in the photo above was indeed saved, and is placed precisely where those imagined notions were most likely to happen, just inside our most-used side entry door.
The other day, I walked past this scene and noticed the way the light was hitting the painted and sparkled wooden trees. I went to get my camera and, through the lens, I spied the sage-y greens and golds on the wing chair in the background.
I smiled when I saw the Santa hat. Last weekend, a certain Practice Grandkid swiped that hat from the polar bear’s head that hangs on the wall outside her bedroom. She’d worn it to greet Santa and the Missus when they arrived in the harbor via lobster boat. I was happy to note that she returned the hat – if not to the bear’s head, to the chair – thus saving me from worrying that she might have a future involving Christmas-themed thievery.
My lens fell on the rug-hooked candy cane pillow laid on the seat of the chair. That was when I realized that the chair’s fabric has some flecks of berry red. It is the same salmony berry-red painted onto the walls years ago.
Which brings me to the photo above.
I was initially focused on the trees, and how the light bathed them.
Then I backed up a little when I noticed that the chair had colors and reflections I liked too.
Then I backed up even more because the smidge of red on the wall worked with the soft, Christmassy feeling of the scene too.
But then the radiator was in the frame.
No matter where I stood, or what angle I raised or lowered myself into, the radiator was in the view I wanted. Once loaded into the computer, no matter how I cropped them, none of the pics felt right.
As with so many things that won’t happen exactly the way I want them to (no matter how I push or prod), I looked for the accompanying message. What was I supposed to take from this silly little frustration?
Then it doinked me in the forehead.
Christmastime doesn’t replace what is part-in-parcel to our everyday lives.
It shows up right alongside the whole shebang.
And it ain’t just about the things.
It’s also about our stuff.
Which is another way of saying that Christmastime – the feeling, the season itself – is as internal as it is eternal.
If we feel entitled to certain impossibilities – that Christmas is somehow going to suspend our worries, or problems, or grief… that its arrival on fractals of snowflakes will mend everything from shaky relationships, to leaky roofs, to empty wallets and and and and (or or or) – we are doomed to the anxiety and disappointment that inevitably follows when we believe what is doesn’t mesh with what should be. The soft glow of wonder and transcendence we yearn for this time of year is ravaged by such expectations.
Christmastime doesn’t replace. It augments.
It doesn’t embolden crazy (we do that). Instead, Christmastime encourages us to slow down and allow the twinkling lights to quietly reveal the good in what is already here, perhaps somehow hidden in the holes of our memories, or hectic buzzing about of our busy days and brains. Often, it does so through that point of view only achieved by stepping outside ourselves, and considering others.
Christmastime can, if we let it, boost and sprinkle and sparkle and highlight the good and amazing of what is, for each of us… while also encouraging us to consider who we want to be in the brand new year that follows.
When we are present in the varied moment of its fleeting season, we can hear it…
Reminding us of gratitude, of kindness.
Whispering of love, friends, and family (be that the one we were born into, the one we have created with friends (or, if we are truly lucky, both)).
Making space… so much space… for those we have loved through our days and years, who we are no longer able to hug with our arms (but will forever embrace with our hearts).
Christmastime is a time to consider our gifts, ones impossible to find in stores. At the same time, we are reminded to give to others – including complete strangers – in spirit and attitude, as well as time and charity. The presents we give, with the intention to delight, are symbols of sharing what we have with others… no matter how much or how little that may be, and regardless of our gifts being bought or made or wished.
My old radiator was, I thought, not a contributor to the curated Christmas scene I wanted to share. Then it reminded me that everything that makes up who we are, including all the major and seemingly inconsequential elements of our everyday lives, comes with us into Christmastime. All of it. All of it.
And in and amongst the all… there is that for which we can be grateful…
And find meaning in…
And feel wonder.
Sure, discovering the treasures can takes more effort some years than in others.
But it is possible.
Yes, it is.
Because, c’mon, it’s Christmastime.
Anything is possible.
Thanks for readin’.
*In the early 1900s, our house operated as an inn on the island. It isn’t currently an inn, so we’ll look at you funny if you show up wanting to book a room.
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