The Ice Castle
I attended a party a few weeks ago in the home of a co-member of a volunteer club to which I belong. I have known our host (I will call her Gina, not her real name) for many years and always found this person to be articulate, capable and dedicated. She is committed to our cause and is always willing to jump in and help. Does she overuse her strengths sometimes and tend to ‘rule the roost’? Yes, however I know her heart is in the right place. This was my first visit to her home.
I always love visiting other people’s homes, because how they live and what they surround themselves with in their homes says so much about who they are. Sometimes I am completely thrown off guard. This event was one of those times.
Gina’s home was lovely – in a magazine sense. It was a picture perfect home, decorated elegantly with statuary, artwork and furniture. It was decked out for Christmas like the front cover of House Beautiful with silver or white Christmas trees in every room, decorated with coordinating baubles. The mantle was draped in green and tinsel garlands, sculptured angels and silver candles. She had floodlights casting dancing ferry lights on the ceilings and baskets of greenery strategically placed by the door. Each room was softly lit with blue light coming from beneath the sofas and chairs. It was magical, elegant, near perfect and…….cold.
Why cold? Well, firstly, the tile floors were freezing. Mostly, there was something missing. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I realize that what was missing was the host. There was nothing of Gina in any of the rooms. What do I mean by that? I think about what people would notice about me in my home and I believe that is where the answer lies.
My Christmas tree is anything but matching. Rather, it is a hodge podge of decorations accumulated over the years; some made by my son in school, others given to me by friends, even more preciously saved from cleaning out my Mother’s things when she died (all the ornaments from our childhoods, carefully divided up between the siblings). Each one a memory. All the Christmas decorations I put out each year would not make any magazine, yet they each have a story, chips, scratches and all.
The other thing missing was books. I always seek out other people’s bookshelves. I love seeing what other people read. I am drawn to notice which books are well worn, which ones lying beside a comfy chair with a bookmark tucked into the pages. I believe that what one reads adds a dimension to how you know them like nothing else.
Lastly, although the artwork was striking, simple, and bold, each one was similar to the others. There was no array of frames and family and styles – in fact I didn’t see anything that looked like a family photo. I get tired sometimes of dusting the myriad photos of my family and people I love and wonder if I should tuck some of them away, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I love looking at all those faces I adore and the memories from those that have passed or grown up. Gina’s furniture, decorations, and light fixtures were blingy and sparkling glass and silver. I love bling, however along with everything else that seemed to be missing, it was all starting to feel more like ice than bling.
Take a look around your home. What would people know about you, if they sat in that space and saw it through a stranger’s eyes? Today, I am feeling as though my home is not perfect but it is warm, inviting and I am surrounded by things and people and memories and my work that I love. I think I am not even going to do housework today.