Day 188: Three Important Questions to Ask When Decorating Your Mantel


Have a look at my friend's mantel.

“Almost every man wastes part of his life attempting to display qualities which he does not possess.” Samuel Johnson

The mantel, or the place above the fireplace (according to Webster), starts as a display area but sometimes becomes a placeholder for a variety of odds and ends.  According to the location of the fireplace and its proximity to the entry door, we may find a variety of things on the mantel.

Initially, though, we choose carefully the things we want displayed on the mantel.  Most of these will be either decorative or things of great importance.

Snapping this picture made me wonder what I would put on my mantel – both figuratively and literally.  This led my thinking to these three questions:

What things do I value? I don’t have a lot of things of great value.  Old pictures of our family taken before digital days, a book written by my grandfather, a doll made by my grandmother, and my wedding ring are some of the things I would hope to recover in a catastrophic event.  Maybe because I tend to break things easily, or because we move around a lot, I’ve never been too attached to physical things.  Still, it’s enjoyable to see quality items people collect and display in their houses and on the mantel.

What memories do I tuck away? There are several memories I might put on my figurative mantel.  Memories of my husband and my children will forever be displayed and stacked in the boxes and albums of my mind.  Many family memories will be showing on the mantel.  However, there are a few memories tucked in some corners that I don’t share but that I value deeply.  These are memories of special times with old friends I don’t see any more.  My sister told me of a movie where memories were erased upon request.   That’s an interesting concept, yet many painful memories we might still choose to keep.

What accomplishments please me?  Besides being pleased with my children, I don’t have a list of great accomplishments. With all honesty, though, I’m pleased with things I’m learning, and I’m pleased with the creative accomplishments I’ve been involved with at our school.  Education and creativity are the things I continue to value and would choose to display on the mantel in my mind.

Choosing just a few things tells a lot about the person we have become.  What would you place on your mantel?

“I keep both of my Tonys on my mantel. They’re in front of a mirror so if you look at just the right angle, it looks like I have four!” Swoosie Kurtz


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