Advent, My Way #10


One missing piece changes everything.

A pub with no beer. Just an empty room, kind of smelly.

A clock with no tick. Just another tchotchke, if it doesn’t tell time.

A fireplace with no flame. Just a cold hole in the wall of a room.

We’ve been looking at a cold hole in the wall of our living room for a couple months now but last night we got a wonderful Christmas gift—we have our flame back!

Our fireplace is powered by a gas insert and, when we had it serviced this fall, they found a warped section and a hole in the firebox. That meant that carbon monoxide could, possibly, leak out. And that meant we could, possibly, wake up dead.

The good news, other than the fact that we didn’t wake up dead, is that the fireplace was under warranty. The bad news was that there was no telling when it would be replaced. No promises were made.

We had a pool, Don and I, guessing when we’d have it functional again. Don was the optimist and guessed, “before Christmas.” Pessimist Kerry said, “end of January.”

Just this once, I am so pleased to have been wrong!

I do love a fire blazing in the fireplace. I love it all winter long but especially at Christmas.

It’s cold here in the North Country of upstate New York. The winter wind comes mostly from the north and bangs right up against our living room windows. That fireplace dispels the chill that can get into one’s bones.

But, of course, the fireplace is more than simply a practical way of getting warm. It brings back those memories I cherish so much of early Christmases on the farm. The “good” parlor was where the Christmas tree stood, next to the fireplace that would be lit Christmas morning, for the frenzy of unwrapping gifts.

In the frenzy of unwrapping gifts, the gift wrap would be added to the flame. Some years, when power cords and cash went missing, it was acknowledged that they, too, had probably been added to the flame . . .

A fireplace sums up what I want my holiday to be at this stage of my life as well. Warm, cozy, bright. Quiet, simple, understated.

Now that our fireplace has been mended, we will finish our simple decorating. The Santa contingent can take their places on the mantle and a few special linens will be added, and we’ll call it done.

On Christmas Day, while others are going over the river and through the woods to visit relatives, we will hang out in front of the fire, just us two, with a warm drink, a good book, a little hand sewing.

The cats will jostle for position in front of the fireplace. With luck, a light snow will fall outside the windows and we will welcome the North Wind to blow.

The spot formerly known as a “cold hole in the wall of the room” will blaze with color and heat. The room will get, maybe, a little too warm.

But, really, can a room, at Christmas, ever be too warm?

43 thoughts on “Advent, My Way #10

  1. Up your way.. I don’t think so! Lovely post,Kerry! Even the wood stove feels good down here this morning,we had our first hard frost.( 27*) I think all the cold from up there is spreading to the south. Enjoy your fire and book!:)

  2. Now I know you have gas fireplace. I knew that roaring fire looked so inviting and warm. Glad you, Don and the kitties have it back!

  3. Flickering flames just have to play their part in the Christmas tableau. We now have a wood burner, which we love. But do you know what? the window soots up, so we can’t often see the flames. We feel cheated, though the warmth it provides is very welcome. We’ ll just have to imagine those lively flickering tongues of fire.

  4. I love a fire in the winter! It’s so soothing and cosy. In a former home we had two real fireplaces which needed real coal and logs and produced real ash and dust! We didn’t mind most of the time but on really wet or snowy days it wasn’t much fun for Richard (not me!) to go across the yard to the coal house and the woodshed to collect the fuel.
    I am so pleased you have got your lovely fire up and running again! Your Christmas sounds so peaceful and gentle. May it be so xx

  5. We have two (!) gas log fireplaces that are warm and low maintenance, but sometimes I miss the smell of burning wood and the hisses and pops logs sometimes make. No, we didn’t install them; they were already in place when we bought our house. Enjoy your now functioning fire as the flakes drift by outside.

    • I absolutely miss the smells and sounds of a wood fire! But we are truly lazy and if we had to split wood, drag it in, drag ashes out . . . we would never have a fire.

  6. Lucky you! Our gas fireplace isn’t working either…. Peter has been working on it – off and on – mostly off… SC homes aren’t built like Northern ones and I do get cold in the winter. I’d love a wood one, but it’s so easy to get warm quickly with gas!I suspect the fireplace needs a total overhaul, but now is not the time. I have out the cats’ Winter beds and recently Jasmine has been buried in what I call the bowl….
    I am hoping the fireplace is ready for Christmas.

  7. So glad you have a fire again. We had an open fire in the lounge when I was a child, a room which was only used on high days and holidays, and our Christmas tree was there too. We love our wood burning stove at this time of year. You have a lovely plan for your Christmas.

  8. How happy I am your falthy fireplace was discovered!! When my oldest son was just 2 weeks old, he and I almost died of carbon monoxide because of a disfuction in the gas fire place. I was nursing him in front of it and I felt sleepy and unwell in time and decided to take a nap with him in the bedroom upstairs. Oh my goodness, what a life saving idea that was. Mr. Walker immediately felt something was wrong when he came home later and we sat in the living room again..both of us became sleepy and got a headache. In the end, he was the real life saver, by discovering what was going on. I won’t repeat what he said, it was a newly installed fireplace. I still get a little upset about the idea we could have woken up dead…xox Johanna

    • I was SO convinced we wouldn’t have the fireplace back in time! This is their very busy time of year and I figured, since ours was getting replaced for free under warranty, we’d be low priority. An unexpected gift is always extra special!

  9. Pingback: Adventures | silkannthreades

  10. I have asthma so we switched to gas for our fireplace. What wonder! I keep the house very cool at night so when I come down stairs early in the morning I turn the fireplace on. Mmmm….. my second cup of coffee is sipped in front of the flames. (the first one is at the breakfast table)

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