Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dis Mantle

So it all started with the Mantle Clock.

It was (and still is, in some respects) a thing of beauty, the only real thing of value I got from my first 'real' job there at Jostens (other than a good career path!).

The clock was sold in an employee auction because of a slight mar on one foot, a $350 mantle clock that I picked up as the highest bidder for $70.

I was real proud of that clock, and would wind it weekly, to hear its lovely chimes ringing through the house. Letting us know what time it was. Even in the middle of the night.

When we got our second home, because of the ice storm here in the Memphis area, I insisted we get a home with a fireplace, which of course came with a mantle. An excellent place for a mantle clock, wouldn't you agree?

By this time we had two children - a daughter (9) and a son (3) and one on the way.

We already knew that our daughter was ADD, due to a diagnosis when she was in the first grade and struggling a bit. But the jury was out on our son.

Well, life at work had gotten quite hectic, and I was putting in extremely long days and weeks, working weekends and quite worn out, so I forgot to perform my Monday ritual winding of the ever-important mantle clock.

Tuesday came, and my 3yo dear son reminded me to wind the clock. I said I would, but a call from work caused me to rush off without doing so.

A cardinal sin.

Dragging back home at around 7:30pm that night, I went straight to the kitchen and went to the fridge to pour myself a glass of iced tea. Something us southern folks find a necessity down here in the sweltering south.

I stopped in mid pour, with the dawning realization that something was STRUCTURALLY DIFFERENT about the home. No, not just 'I cleaned the Living Room!' or 'I rearranged the furniture, do you like it?' or 'I bought a slipcover for the couch, that's a nice color, don't you think?'

No, this was on the level of a new window, or a new door.

So I put the pitcher down and came back in the living room, looking for the cause of my concern. And suddenly, I saw it. Or rather I didn't see it.

The mantle.

It was GONE. That's right, gone. Not painted, or damaged, just completely and utterly gone. Unpainted drywall was staring me in the face.

I blinked.


I rubbed my eyes.

The mantle persisted in its gone-ness.

I've heard of people stealing stereos, TVs, even Tickle-Me-Elmos. But a mantle thief??

I said, 'Um, Honey?'

'Yes?' came her bright voice from the other room.

'Where's the MANTLE?' - I tried to sound as sweet as she did, but I was failing miserably.

'Oh, the Mantle?'

'Yes, the MANTLE.' There was a different note in my voice, the 'don't mess with me' voice.

'Oh, it's in the garage.' As if that settled the matter.

'Um, why isn't it on the wall?' Like where it belongs...

'Ask your son...'

Yes. It appears that my sequentially thinking son had decided to wind the clock for poor Daddy, since he forgot. Being athletic (and giftedly so) this little 3yo took a running leap, and caught the mantle. Pulled himself up and got an elbow on top the mantle, and hung there by one hand while he opened the door to the clock and attempted to find the key to wind it.

At this point, physics and gravity took over.

The professional construction crew who built our home probably didn't consider the possibility that we would be hanging toddlers from our mantle. Usually you hang stockings from this piece of furniture, and perhaps put bric-a-brac on it, with nothing much heavier than a mantle clock expected.

So the ten-penny nails began to come out and with a groan and a crash, toddler, clock and mantle came crashing down.

Luckily for our toddler, the clock decided to slide before falling, and went past him, and the rather large, rather disassembled mantle fell in front of him.

When the family came running to find out who had started the war, they all decided to hide the evidence and hope that Daddy wouldn't notice.

Yes, I'm ADHD too. But not so far gone I'd miss a missing mantle. (Well, ok, for more than the time it takes to pour some tea...)

Well, dear son and I had a talk, and he helped me glue the mantle clock back together (yes! It still works and everything!)

And I took a trip to the store to buy a box of heavy duty nails and I rehung the mantle in such a way that I could hang on it myself. (Yes, I tried this).

I'm reminded through all of this, though, that I should not hold too tightly to THINGS. Like Mantle clocks. As beautiful as these things are, everything in this life is passing away. And sometimes God has to use a prybar, or an over-helpful toddler, to open our fingers so he can fill our hands with the good things of lasting value.