Monday, December 10, 2012

Glitter and Ribbons and Wrapping Paper of the Soul

Leaden skies draped my world in dewy garland today.  Even now, the rain is still sliding down the windows as the street lights flicker on beyond, their halos misty in the night.  Christmas twinkles along the edges of my sight, the fairy lights draped across the bar, the holly piled high atop the china hutch, the buffet littered with half drunk bottles of wine and a dozen glasses among the poinsettias and candles.  Our holiday bash crept up so quickly, my month of novel writing just ended and I had but a week to deck the house and bake the nibbles to delight; a week of ladders and lights and hanging the Moravian star.  Ribbons that swirl and stars that spin in the pine-scented drafts...oh, how I love Christmas!

And yet....

The house is so quiet.  The first day without a scribbled list on legal pad yellow paper, each item crossed off with satisfaction and the last with utter exhaustion.  The first day without a deadline except dinner--and bacon wrapped pork chops with lemon and sage make for patient mouths, willing to wait however long it takes.  I curled up with a cup of cinnamon tea this afternoon and watched the slate coloured sky, recollecting moments of hilarity and joy during the party, as well as several of frustration and fatigue in that week leading up to it.  Entertaining is a creature born of effort and organization; it dares you to reach higher, try harder, and do it while ever smiling. 

I've been known to joke that I only entertain after dark as candle light is the most flattering, hiding the flaws and imperfections in this ancient house--thus every room is lit with their flickering glow.  I passionately adore the character of the old and weathered but as I hung the wreath to cover the crack in the wall, tied the lights to hide the chipped mantle, dangled the ornaments from the dining room chandelier to draw the eye away from the unfinished mount, I was reminded of....myself.

The eyeliner to distract from the shadows that hover beneath, lipstick to cover the weariness, a smile to counteract the anger that can be read in the clench of my jaw.  Baubles to glitter at my ears, my hair twisted and tucked into shape.  Sometimes I feel I wrap and decorate myself much as I do a gift, only I am unsure if it is to prolong the surprise of the wonder inside....or to conceal the defects and disappointments.  Each of us fights our own battle to accept ourselves, this I know.  Under a barrage of advertising that encourages lifelong dissatisfaction and a hunger for bigger, better, lovelier and sparkly...thinner, smarter, faster...perpetual reckless improvement. 

This holiday, our entertaining now done for the most part, I'm looking forward to quiet nights and peppermint spiked cocoa.  Long afternoons in my painted clothing perhaps working on a new canvas, my hair damp from the shower, my cheeks pale in the light.  I'm hoping to be more honest with myself...more realistic with my energy and time.  More genuine with my emotions.  Let us fight the rabid dog of commercialism and comparisons.  Let us enjoy each other while resisting the unattainable myth of perfection.

Here's to unwrapping our souls...may we cherish what we discover.       


Shea Goff said...

I just thought to myself, "Where is Chantel?"

And here you are all unwrapped and lovely. Thank you for sharing who you are. And yes, I agree. Let us fight and enjoy. I'll stand beside you on the front lines of that.

mobiuslife said...

Yes, we are all wrapped in layers of life, experiences, failures, laughter, love, heartache, joys, and pain. But there is a particular joy in finding new people to unwrap, who will also unwrap you. To delve through the layers, to help add a laugh line to the eyes, to share in the tears, and to unearth the natural beauty of the soul and the body where you can both sit in awe of yourselves.

terlee said...

A hundred years or more back in time, I would be aging so beautifully by candle and it is, I'm thankful for dimmers and soft lightbulbs.

Happy Christmas!!

Wow, that was awkward said...

The people that matter could care less about the wrapping paper. All they care about is what is inside. Wait! That makes it sound like I just want electronic gadgets from the Apple store. Um. Giving (Apple products) is better than receiving? A crappily wrapped present is better than no present? What is this post about?

You are a sweet soul Chantel.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Chantel, this is a wonderful meditation; I love the way it builds from the party and house to thoughts of sustaining oneself. I would love your parties and your house, and I can tell that I also would love sitting with you to enjoy a good peppermint cocoa and some conversation.

estetik said...

As you sow so shall you reap this proverb seems very much perfect for you. Now after working hard for a long time its time to get reward.

Farmer monk said...

What a bird in the sky, fish in the water, you seem to be as a homemaker!

In the dark, we all sat in silence for hours. Holiday parties came up for me! We partied in our own way.

And when you talked about the wrapping, I though, we're not so different...I'm wrapped, too! T-shirt, white juban, grey kimono, black robe, blue rakusu, obi and belt, and it's hard to be wrapped, no matter the wrapping.

And Chantel, no one here knows the Italian dancing donkey song! They think it's PA thing. I grew up mostly in you know Dominick the donkey?

ND Mitchell said...

Loved reading this. We are who we are. You're so right though in saying that we each fight our own battles to accept ourselves. Hope the holidays are a time of relaxation. David

The Empress said...

Beautiful. Wistfully beautiful: the best gift we can give is ourselves.

And I haven't been able to give that at all: with everything happening: cleaning, cooking, shopping , driving, working, writing. I have been giving not even half of myself.

Thank you for this mirror to face.

You always do that for me. ALWAYS.

Chantel said...

Shea--thank goodness there are souls out there that believe the same! I could imagine no one better to stand beside me...

Mobiuslife--darling, so perfectly said! (even if it was standing by my side drying dishes after our party, right? Did I thank you properly for that?) xo

Terlee--oh, dimmers are a must! lol Happy Christmas, my sweet sister!

Brett--you do make me laugh! And if I'm ever rich, I'll buy you the Apple store. :)

Bliss--how I wish for the starship "beam me up" life so we could meet for coffee for an afternoon. We'd have a lovely time, you and I.

Estetik--such truth in that proverb, indeed.

Farmer Monk--I suppose we're all wrapped up, some more heavily than others. I'm not native to these parts and had to look up Dominic the Donkey--LOVE it! lol Thank you!

David--thanks so much, and you as well!

Empress--as you said, "the best gift is ourselves." Lady, you have one lucky family. :)

Dee said...

Dear Chantel, this short essay about the world in which we try to discover ourselves and the way we choose to present ourselves to that world is so well written as well as being succinct and wise.

I'd like to suggest that you consider querying several women's magazines with this short piece. It's too late to publish it for the December issue this year, but I'm wondering if one or more magazine editors wouldn't consider it a marvelous addition to next December's offerings. Most women--and many men also--would find themselves resonating to your thoughts and perceptions. Just think about it. Peace.

Mary Kirkland said...

Have a very Merry Christmas.

Brian Miller said...

i love the challenge in this....the unwrapping ourselves and not getting caught up in the rush of the holiday and experiencing life together....of course peppermint mocha helps as well....smiles....and they will keep us in a tizzy with how/what they sell as a life that is really unnecessary....

The Loerzels said...

"Sometimes I feel I wrap and decorate myself much as I do a gift, only I am unsure if it is to prolong the surprise of the wonder inside....or to conceal the defects and disappointments." ~Absolutely brilliant!