The holidays will be different this year. From what I am hearing, many are going "all out" in their holiday decorating, trying to make thigs as normal as possible. While others are planning a very …
The holidays will be different this year. From what I am hearing, many are going "all out" in their holiday decorating, trying to make thigs as normal as possible. While others are planning a very laid-back holiday. But no matter which direction you choose this season, it is sure to be one of gratitude and reflection.
One of my favorite sections of the now defunct House and Garden magazine was the monthly welcoming essay by Dominique Browning, H & G's editor. I truly enjoyed her essays because her personal emotion and passion were clearly evident and unabashedly displayed with every topic that she covered. One month it was the look and feel of her beloved home, after her husband of many years filed for divorce.
Another month she described how her son's bedroom looked and felt after he had left for college. She often spoke of her garden in just the same reflective tones. It always struck me how she could regale the qualities of a Japanese Maple, while describing the recent picnic she shared beneath it with her friends. She just
had a way of making every space, every plant, every shadow of light, every painting, take on an extraordinarily personal relationship to herself and what was going on in her life at a certain period of time.
Because surroundings are such a large part of my life, her essays often echoed feelings and emotions easily identified and always thought provoking. One thought that would always cross my mind after reading one of her essays was how brave she was to expose such personal attachments to chairs and tables, always in relation to some personal issue or challenge that was present in her life at that time. The essays were enjoyable because inevitably I knew that she was expressing something that we all often experience at one time or another or may feel sometime in the future. I also often wondered how others viewed these musings, as I often thought that putting so much emotional emphasis on inanimate objects may be viewed as silly and maybe even materialistic.
Although, working in the design field for as long as I have, it seems that all of my clients do put a certain amount of importance on the style of a chair, the hand of a fabric, or how sunlight may affect the shadows in a room. But I also know that some will put no thought whatsoever into complexities such as these. These are the people whose lives may -be filled with children's activities, family matters, health issues, and economic concerns. How a fabric is positioned on a sofa does not play a part in their lives in the least, and nor should it.
So why, then, do some of us think so intently about our surroundings, obsess about the color of the carpet or the texture of the wallpaper? And why will that dining table always remind us of Thanksgiving dinner in 1972? While other people may not even be able to tell if the table has four legs or a pedestal base?
For many people, the things and spaces that surround them in their lives, are all emotionally related, intertwined with familial relationships, friendship celebrations and marriage commitments, and all have emotional responses that evoke memories of people, places and events of times past, more likely than not bring on a smile!
Knowing that some will say that this is just plain wrong, and why put so much emphasis on THINGS that are around you, you should think about the future, not the past. I guess, like Dominique Browning, many of us, find joy, and even gain strength from these reflections.
So, this holiday season, take a look around the kitchen, fix in your mind the person standing behind that stove, memorize the seating arrangement around that dining room table, remember the conversation surrounding it, and if you are like me, you will be thinking about the family and friends you will not be seeing this holiday. But instead of looking back, look forward to next year when the holiday season may be quite a bit bright.
Patricia Cove is principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her web site: www.patriciacove.com