I love, love, love the magazine Coastal Living. I have since the first time I saw it, all those years ago sitting in the most unexpected and unworthy of places, in a Chicago podiatrist’s office, surrounded by old ladies complaining of bunions, jocks sporting fresh injuries and everyone in between. It was like a glimmering city on a hill, set apart from all the golf magazines and the tabloids around it. I opened its cover, and found myself wanting to transport to all of the coastal areas featured, to live in the homes with décor that spoke of the sea. To this day, it is the magazine most likely to sit on my coffee table, the one I most often retreat to when I find myself suddenly in the middle of a Friday night void of all obligations, social or otherwise. For me, there are few greater indulgences than an evening sitting on my deck with a wine glass in one hand and the latest issue of Coastal Living in the other.
But, well, there’s a but.
I am now in fact living on the coast, and while it is a place wonderful in ways I cannot always fully express, it’s not always quite like the world Coastal Living has so magnificently and artfully created.
In my case, it’s more, well, real. My coastal world comes with three small people to maneuver around, an incessantly-talking husband to think around, an actual budget, an absence of professional decorating assistance, and a design-and-make-it-happen team of one.
So, while I look both longingly and appreciatively over all the brilliant décor and ideas in Coastal Living, my reality is still my reality.
And, my reality is this:
Despite the vast inspiration that island living provides, I still come up drastically lacking in my ability to actually make things look, well, good. So while I want my gingerbread house to look like this lighthouse, more reflective of my environment, instead, it looks like this.
I love this look, but for one second, I could not maintain a table like this in my house. Although maybe if I had a loud whistle and nothing else pressing in my day, I could do it for a short while. ‘Cause, you know, so many times I find myself with a whistle and absolutely no daily objectives.
I’m sure they will say the beauty of this arrangement is that there is no correct way to arrange the bulbs, that they’re meant to sprawl across the table, life-like. Excuse my ignorance, but I beg to differ. In my world, lickety-split, the boys would find makeshift pool cues, and those ornaments would be everywhere but on the table. Everywhere as in the literal everywhere, y’all. I hardly think they mean that kind of life-like.
I don’t have a swimming pool, but if I did, again, it would just defy the laws of the small male constitution for a tree placed in close proximity to a pool to not end up in the pool in short order. Someone would be bound to determine whether the tree could float. Later, he would protest, in all seriousness, that it was all done merely in the interest of promoting scientific experimentation.
Here’s the thing. I really covet this look for my house. I always have. But, it’s not happening. Because, on my particular ocean, known by many as the Atlantic Ocean, there’s something called wind. Just for kicks, however, I decided to take an old Christmas tree out on the deck this afternoon, to see how it would fare.
After three tries with similar results, I found myself holding on to the tree and attempting to yell above the sound of the waves, screaming for LCB using his Christian name to “hurry up and take a picture before your tree and your wife end up airborne already!” Baby-girl offered her support too, yelling “Emergency, emergency!” with all the strength her four-year-old lungs could muster.
I think we’ll just let this particular dream go.
I could go on, but it’d hardly be attractive, and I think you get the point. Coastal Living is the stuff of dreams, dreams packaged with the best of trimmings.
The Christmas we will have here on our island will also be the stuff of dreams, just minus the Christine-made trimmings.
And the tree? I don’t intend to spend my Christmas chasing my tree halfway across the island if it catches a wind gust, which it inevitably will.
So, it’s staying inside, where all sane people keep their Christmas trees.