Michelle Obama, in her book “Becoming,” says her mother admitted that every winter, she contemplated leaving Obama’s father. Obama goes on to explain to readers that we must understand that in Chicago, the winters are long and gray and heavy. They seem never-ending and interminable. And perhaps a little fantasy is needed to get you through. Perhaps the recommitment in the spring to your marriage makes the whole winter worthwhile because you emerge new and with clear eyes.
Today, in my home on the cusp of the wild, we are having yet another gray, miserable winter day. Frigid winds, sleeting rain. I am not thinking about leaving my husband. Not today, anyway. I am thinking about leaving my interior decorator. (Full disclosure: That’s me. I’m the decorator.)
Why is it that in the wintertime, we decorate the insides of our homes with spruce garland, snow-frosted maple leaves and bare, lifeless twigs? Craft stores make millions of dollars persuading us to make the insides of our homes look like the outsides of our homes. But the outsides of our homes stink! That’s why we are inside!
Who decided on this seasonally matched decorating trend, and why am I following suit?
Disgustingly gray and frigidly miserable outside? We’ve got what you need! Spray this fake snow into the corners of your windows so you can feel even more trapped inside your home. It’s claustrophobia in a can!
Enjoy some dead twigs to put inside the mantel vase that once carried lively tulips. It’s lifeless outside, and now, thanks to this dead twig bundle, for the low price of $19.99, it can be lifeless inside your home, as well!
Why do we do this to ourselves? This ridiculousness is not limited to the winter, either. In the dead heat of summer, do you know what my kids bring home every year? Sand art. Hey, Ma, you know how the moment you step outside it feels as if the sun is going to rip your skin off? Now you can remember that grating sensation every time you look at this dry, dry, dry art project. Craft stores swap out their dead twigs and dried (read: dead) flowers of winter to embrace the misery of summer. Fabric flowers with droplets of fake water on the petals now fill the vase — so you can remember the suffocating and wet humidity outside while you sit comfortably inside. Bouncing plastic yellow jackets on the ends of wire sticks are sold as delightful adornments to any summer interior design to remind observers of the stress and panic one feels all summer long over possibly being stung by a nasty wasp, even when the threat is not present.
Why are we bringing the outside in? Or, perhaps a better question, why are we bringing the current outside in?
I’m a nature lover. Being outside is my favorite place to be. So if I am inside, it is safe to say that the outdoors has become oppressive in some way. I don’t need to be reminded of what is outside. I just escaped from what is outside!
For those of us with long summers and long winters, might I suggest a flip-flop on the seasonal interior decor? Namely, in winter, start decorating with flip-flops — and tropical umbrellas and sweaty fake flowers. In winter, clear away the mug display and pull out the fake coconuts and margarita glasses. In winter, cover the whole home with bouncing plastic yellow jackets so that you may look at them longingly, excitedly awaiting the day when you may once again be stung by one of those little jerks.
And then, come summer, fill the vases with bare, dead winter twigs so at least one nature item will not be covered in pollen and causing your allergies to flare up. Spray the fake snow on the windows so you may take a break in the air-conditioned home and remember that coolness is just a few months away.
This isn’t about not appreciating what you have; it’s about allowing a mental break when what you have becomes a bit too much.
Our local dollar store sells luau decorations all year long. I’m headed there later today to stock up on pineapple lights and leis. The way I see it, you can either spend a long winter fantasizing about leaving your husband or lounge with your husband in matching grass skirts.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids.”