Abigail is a sleeping fuchsia starfish splayed out on the leather cushion next to me. Next to her, flames pop and wrap around a new log. I recognize the golden opportunity. I draft the first sentence of this post. An ash cracks. The eyelids of the fuchsia starfish flutter open. I close my iPad case, and back in my arms, Abigail reaches for the mantle decor of the Izaak Walton Inn.
We are miles from home. We flew to Kalispell to visit Sasquatch and Santa Claus – Abigail’s uncle and grandpa, respectively. Sasquatch works at the Izaak; his girlfriend works the front desk. Abigail and I watch the cold railroad tracks and snowy yard for Sasquatch; we visit with Cassie to pass the time. We admire the historic mantle. I think on our mantle in Alabama.
I’ve had the Christmastime mantle planned since August. On Black Friday Eve, I held up my ace-in-the-hole: a big canvas of the Floore’s Country Store pick-up truck in Helotes, Texas. The wall swallowed up the green pick-up. I almost resorted to Pinterest, but remembered the wreath from home.
The oversized wreath was too big on the front door; it seemed almost too small above the mantle. I retreated to Pinterest.
Pinterest gets my creative wheels rolling. Small doses go a long way; big doses go to my head and end up sinking like stones into my proud, discontented heart.
‘Tis the season to flee to Pinterest like you’ve no creative notions to save your not so merry soul. Especially when it comes to the “mantle.” You should see the mantle pictures people have pinned. Thousands of homes in America look like an IKEA showroom sponsored by Hobby Lobby. To achieve such a festive look, I would need to go to Hobby Lobby. Or Michael’s. Or Kirkland’s. This is when Black Friday deals whispered my name to draw me to their wreaths. Something else whispered, “just check out what you already have.”
The wreath from home is old. The ribbon is mangled. The boughs are wonky, but Zach helped me fluff them. I reshaped the bow. I went digging through four boxes of inherited and homemade decorations – and a few purchased at Hobby Lobby years ago. After a few drafts, I achieved a look more homey and personal than anything I had seen on Pinterest.
I could have purchased another round of trendy decor and snapped an Instagram photo to impress the Alabama Joneses I do not even know yet. It would have created a fifth box of Christmas decor. It would have created a feeling of disappointment.
And Christmas is not the season for disappointment. It is the season for hope. That hope -God with us- frees us from the shackles of comparison and commercialism.
The next day, everyone from the front desk staff to the ski rental guy pulled out tried and true Christmas decor to deck the halls of the Izaak Walton Inn. I saw a Frosty with his hat top broken off. The Santa hat went back onto the elk mount. It was charming and familiar.
All Christmas decor collections start somewhere, and I will most likely hit up Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Kirkland’s when end-of-the-year sales make a splurge for the trendy worth it. But, I am thankful I chose to make due with what I had instead of restlessly searching for ways to replicate the latest trend. Or welcoming discontentedness without meaning to by mindlessly searching social media.
The Izaak Walton Inn claims to be the place where
“time stands still and lets you catch up.”
Even with the addition of WiFi, many leave their phones in their suitcases. No one sits around catching up on social media, least of all Pinterest. They’ve got better things to do. When it comes to social media and keeping up with the Joneses, especially in this season, less is more. And especially near such a cozy hearth with a such a sweet little starfish.
The Izaak Walton Inn lobby then and now:
Photo Credits: Zach Raygoza, the Izaak, and Michael Reavis Photography