When I was a kid, there wasn’t exactly such a thing as home. “Home” was where the Air Force sent us. Every couple of years we excitedly hit the road for some new military base and that was life. I didn’t know any other way and I loved it. Somehow the need to move every so often got into my blood and in my adulthood, I moved from Florida to Seattle and back to Florida. Then from Miami to Tampa. Then from Tampa to San Diego. In those seven years in America’s Finest City, I moved eight times. I had a gas fireplace once. It had no mantel.
When I met my husband, I was excited he was in the military (though I had once sworn I’d never marry a military guy). It meant he would understand my nomadic lifestyle and my need for change. Of course, what I didn’t anticipate upon that first glance – the most important role in his life – it’s being a dad. I had secretly hoped he’d be stationed overseas and I could revel in this need for change and travel. Instead, his time in the military was coming to its finish and it was time for him to go “home”.
This meant we would be stationing ourselves somewhere. It also meant it would be one of our last moves for quite a while. The idea of having no change was a big change itself and I wasn’t sure how to deal.
The months went by and we found the place we’d hang our hats. A requirement for me was the house had to have a fireplace. This isn’t something hard to come by in Northwest Arkansas. It’s the south, but it gets mighty cold here. We’re talking snow days, people!
Now for those of you reading from places with four seasons, you should understand after the age of 8, except for that 364-day stint in Seattle, I lived in warm weather places. I was kind of excited to have a fireplace. There’s the practical side of things – it saves on the heating bill, but alas it represents something I hadn’t had until 39 years of age. HOME.
It also symbolizes something else. While I’m staying put for a while, I can still have some fun with change. It’s been pointed out to me that I’m “showing off” by sharing my mantel décor and believe me, it isn’t my intention. Usually I’d just roll my eyes, but on this one I think I’ll share why I do what I do. It’s this one small thing I get to do to accept that “home” doesn’t mean an almost constant journey anymore. It means staying in once place. For some that’s the most natural thing in the world; for me the most unnatural.
The stepmom role still feels newer, too (time is limited with the kiddos from 1800 miles away coupled with travel half the year for your job). It’s something the girls enjoy and they will come in and ask what the next month’s look and theme will be. K helps decorate and it is something she can count on to happen every single month. That may seem trite, but when your dad was gone for the military for six years counting on something to be there is meaningful. Even if it’s just some silly decorations on a fireplace mantel. It is the little things that are the big things, right?
So next time I post a photo of a silly napkin fold on my dining room table or some flash cards hole-punched to make a garland, know that my intent is to share a small piece of my vulnerability and my acceptance of “home” having a new definition in my life. You don’t have to like what I do. But perhaps you can appreciate the meaning behind it.
As for me and my mantel décor, I’m already planning for next month. Next time I’ll show you my tablescapes…