Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Despite myself, despite my knowing better--understanding the metaphysical consequences of such thinking and all--I often still think about the money. I am deeply dyed in the wool of "How much?" followed by the weighing of value and cost. Dealing in euros isn't helping matters any, what with currency conversion shaving 25 to 50 percent right off the top.

When my cat Sylvie toppled a framed artwork in the apartment here smashing its glass, I thought first about the waste (I could see it coming
; if I'd reacted more quickly, I could have prevented it). Then I thought about the precious euros it would take to repair the damage. There was also the matter of how, of where: I am in a new city, in a new country look how long it took me to find a fuse! And could I find a place within walking distance? I'm on foot, remember.Thank you Google. In no time, I'd turned up Baggot Framing, off Baggot Street. Right around the corner! I mapped the walk and found the place was even closer than I'd thought. Great! I rang them up.

"Just pop in and I'll take care of it for you," offered the man who answered, after a brief exchange.

Success! I was so excited for this quick resolution that I had hung up before my reflex flexed.
What could it be, 3, 5 euros? Ten tops, I imagined. Whatever the cost, it would be worth the convenience, I decided.

A few days later when I rounded the corner onto Eastmoreland Place and saw the studio-storefront,
I was hit with an 'uh oh' feeling. I could see this was a custom, craft framer. This was going to cost me. Oh well. I had already accepted I would pay whatever I had to pay. I had twenty euros in my wallet and was confident that this would more than cover it.

"I'm sorry," said the gentleman when I entered the shop, crippled artwork in hand. "I won't be able to do anything before Christmas."

"Ahm...I called,"
I mustered after a pause, "about a piece of glass. You said to just pop in...""Ah, I remember," he said, brightening. "Yes," he said, "I can cut the glass for you but I can't frame it. "

I happily accepted, thrilled that I would accomplish my mission. The piece was kind of a mess by this point, glass fragments and shards having started to escape the frame and collect inside the bag I'd used to carry it. It was really in no shape to make the trip back home. He signaled to his shop mate to do the cutting, but not before checking my measurements, which turned out to be off. He read off the new figures in centimeters to the other man, then returned to his task of delivering a mounted, framed--rugby?--orange, bearing the name "Dillon" jersey to another customer, and collecting the 200+ euro check for his work. Somewhere in there the phone rang.

"Let it go," he said cheerily to his partner. And then, to no one in particular (we were a temporary little community by then): "It's my wife. I can tell by the number of rings--that's the code."

Was it by his words, or his tone, or the light in his eyes that I knew he wanted this call, that he would be quick to return it?

Whenever I watch a glass cutter, I can't help but think, "The right tool for the right job." I said as much to the two guys waiting for their jersey piece to be wrapped, as one of them
seemed impressed by the process as well. We watched and marveled together. Then they were off, and it was my turn to complete my purchase.

"No problem" I had told the proprietor. I would assemble mine at home, I didn't live far. But somehow, we three ended up in conversation about white walls, and the shopkeeper's son, a photographer, who isn't allowed to hang his prints in his apartment either."Ah, that's why you have broken glass," the framer had said when I mentioned this restriction.

"That and the cat," I said. "The cat's why I have broken glass, really."

I think that's when he suggested sticky hangers. After which we three launched into an exchange about spackle and white walls and how easy it is to fill tiny nail holes, and how seemingly unnecessary was this prohibition on tenants.

The next thing I knew, my perfectly sized piece of glass had been Windexed, wiped clean of any speck of dust, inserted in my simple metal frame, and within minutes the artwork was all together again, all new. When I asked if I could empty the last of the shards from the bottom of my now torn and only marginally useful bag, the glass cutter produced a new one--plain and brown, sturdy and perfect.

"No Fendi or Armani imprint to show off," he teased, with a smile and a twinkle, "but it will do the job."

My wallet has been out for awhile by this time. I'm ready to be told what to pay but am getting no indication of how much. When there is nothing else to do, no demand or slip is presented, and none seems forthcoming, I resort to asking:
"So how much do I owe you?"

"Ah it's just a little piece of glass," the framer replied with a wave of his hand. I'd thought I was ready for anything, but I never expected this. He was so cheerful and clear and final
about it though, that I put my wallet away.

"Oh, my goodness. Well that's a wonderful Christmas present!" I said, thanking and blessing him. I was warmed through and through, and I instantly knew where I would come the next time I had framing to do. "You will be my neighbor-framer," I declared and then, after more thank you's, stepped out into the gathering night struck by a glow I carried all the way home.

Days later, that glow is still with me, and not abating. This, I think, is the spirit of Christmas. How bright is the Light of Love and how enduring.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes - now that's abundance! And I don't mean dollars or euros - thanks for the reminder, Kath!


10:26 AM  

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