This table sits at the bottom of the stairs, with the big heavy mirror sitting on it and propped against the wall.
For Christmastime, the display looked more or less like this. There are the stairs in the mirror. Also note the apothecary jar on the left with the ceramic alphabet balls.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting, where else?, at the computer, which is around the corner and out sight from the bottom of the stairs. Suddenly, a terrific crashing noise pierced the air along with the sound of shattering glass.
I flew around the corner, to find one of these sitting amidst the rubble.
The mirror was facedown on the floor along with all of the decorative items. I arrived on the scene at the same time as did a crying child, saying “Sorry Mama! Sorry, Mama!”. Said child had purposely sent the ball down the staircase.
Too late for apologies. I was already unglued.
My reaction, while it won an Oscar for best drama, was not pretty. Nor was it proportional to the crime. No, it took on a life of its own, looming over the situation in such a way that it became the main offense.
I was worried about my stuff. I thought it was all destroyed. As it turned out, it wasn’t so bad. My white cake plate was chipped, and so was the little cottage. The mirror, surprisingly, was intact, but the apothecary jar was garbage. I was especially upset about that jar.
In the calm after the storm, as I picked up the shards of glass and gathered up the ceramic balls (all intact), I found the lid to the jar, unbroken.
I needed a place to put the alphabet balls. I had this jar…maybe the lid would fit.
It did fit, and now I have this. And I like it better all the way around: I like this jar better with a lid than without, and I like this lidded jar better than the original apothecary jar.
But so what? For a few moments I let my love of stuff come before the feelings of my child. There is no doubt in my mind that none of us will ever forget that moment. The children (because all three of them reacted to it) hopefully, one day, will laugh ruefully and say “remember that time…”.
And I, even though I have asked for forgiveness from the child and from God, will always feel shame when I think of it.
I’m not coming to any grand and wise conclusion here; this article isn’t going to make it into any parenting magazines. I just hope that this experience will help me to remember to keep first things first. The house isn’t first. Decorating isn’t first. That stuff is all for the people who live here. They are first.
The rest is just stuff.