A Year of Gifts
If these walls could talk…
Most of us have heard this tiny snippet many times. These five little words have been used as the title of books, movies, and television shows. But what do the words really mean? When I looked up the meaning behind the short quote, the explanation I liked best was simply: If these walls could talk, they would tell you the story.
What stories would your walls tell if they could talk? If our walls were capable of speech, they could reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of our daily lives. In reality, our walls can’t actually “speak”, but can’t they still tell our stories?
Today is March 31, 2020, as I write this. We all find ourselves thrust into uncertain times. Due to the pandemic, our family has been staying close to home since Friday, March 13th (this will very likely be the most bizarre Friday the 13th we will see in our lifetimes). For us, we are nineteen straight days into what is yet an unknown stretch of time that we are spending inside our house, broken up with the occasional walk and tasks in the yard. Our days are suddenly like nothing we’ve ever experienced before: a mixture of work, play, anxiety, relaxation, fear, and a search for answers where there are not yet many, all within the confines of the walls of our home.
Yesterday, as sunshine streamed through newly washed windows, I sat quietly with a cup of coffee and peered at the walls around me. No, the walls were not closing in around me, at least not yet. I was simply allowing myself time to pause and think.
When was the last time you really looked at the pictures and decorations that grace the walls of your home? When we live with something for a long time, we often stop noticing it. We start to take our surroundings for granted. But as my eyes traveled around our living room, it dawned on me how so many of the items hanging on our walls tell our stories. The stories of our family. The stories of my dreams (not because I’m the only dreamer here, but because I’m the sole decorator!)
I thought it would be fun to take a few minutes to wander from room to room and pay attention to the types of things that have found their way onto our walls. It’s an eclectic mix to be sure, and one that makes this house a home.
A picture is worth a thousand words. What better way to decorate our walls than with things that speak to us so succinctly?
Since becoming parents twenty-six years ago, our kids’ smiling faces peek out at us from many nooks and crannies, along with reminders that parenting is our most important job:
The quote in the middle picture has guided me through my years of trying to be the best parent I can be, and they’ve never felt more accurate than they do today. This wisdom extends beyond the role of mother or father to that of a teacher, caregiver, healthcare provider, and so many more: “One hundred years from now…it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove…but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child.”
I’m a firm believer that our dwellings transform into homes when we surround ourselves with unique items that speak to our hearts and our memories. It doesn’t matter if others grasp their meanings. They shouldn’t be hung to impress the occasional visitor, but rather to remind us of happy times and our interconnectedness as a family.
There is an artistic gene that weaves its way through our family, and I’d much rather grace my walls with beautiful things created by those closest to me than by people I’ve never met.
Beyond the walls of our homes is a world full of opportunity, challenges, heartache, and the unknown. Inside, our walls can serve to fill our minds with reminders of the good things in life, the things we need to focus on to live our best possible lives.
When I decided to start down a completely new path of weaving stories and encouragement into books, intuitive family members helped me to surround myself with wisdom to draw upon. The old printer drawer on the left includes such snippets as:
Now, these printer drawers offer me a repository for trinkets I’m gathering along my writer’s journey, reminding me there are many more tiny boxes to fill.
Life can be challenging, scary even, but we all have a story to tell. Right now, most of us are spending more time than ever at home. I encourage you to pour a beverage of your choice and quietly sit with your surroundings. Look around. Do the things hanging on your walls speak to you? Do they make you smile? Do they remind you of wonderful times, or people, or dreams you hold dear?
If not, now is the time to dig into your storage areas, closets, and drawers. Look at things you’ve stored with a different eye. You kept those things for a reason. I promise not all of it is junk. Maybe now is the perfect time to take down that random picture you bought from a big box store because the color matched your décor and instead hang up that picture you or a loved one painted years ago. The one that makes you smile. After all, the beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder.
And if there is something that speaks to you, put it front and center. We all need to be surrounded by the words of wise men and women who have come before us, who have braved the storm and come out of difficult situations on the other side, maybe a little beaten down but stronger for it.
One of the best examples I have of this can be found in the words of Theodore Roosevelt in another heartfelt gift from a wise sister-in-law this past Christmas:
When we live full out, we open ourselves up to criticism. If it has been a while since you sat with these words of a former president, or if they are new to you, let me reiterate these words found in the quote above that grace the walls of my home office:
THE MAN IN THE ARENA
It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly. Who errs. Who comes short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms. The great devotions. Who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Do your walls tell your best story? When you meander from room to room, take time today to notice those reminders of your past that conjure up happy memories. Enjoy glimpses into your past, and know we will be making new memories in the future. Keep the faith.
May your walls keep you safe during these uncertain times.
Stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy, my friends. And if you are one of the men or women fighting in the most critical arenas right now to help keep humanity alive and thriving, please know you have the gratitude of millions. Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!