An unexpected Christmas gift years ago from my dear cousin became the start of a small collection I’ve added to over the years. When I received this first gift I had no idea the joy it would give. A simple glass prism, it was at one time, I believe, part of a crystal chandelier.
I wasn’t sure what to do with it until I visited a friend’s home and saw her windows strung with hundreds, perhaps thousands of glass prisms. How did she hang them? Dental floss. Ah, so simple, and yet not something I’d have thought of. Soon my gift hung in my kitchen window, catching each morning’s light, casting rainbows all about my small kitchen.
Over time I found other glass prisms and added them to my window. In a shop on a visit to Vermont, I purchased several blown glass teardrop prisms. People gave them to me as gifts. When my mother died I found a box filled with multiple prisms, much like my original prism, clearly part of a deconstructed chandelier. I claimed several from my mother’s store of prisms to add to my own.
When a dear friend moved away I shared a prism from my window with her, a token of our friendship. Other prisms soon filled the empty space of that shared prism.
When my husband did some work in our kitchen we needed to take these fragile glass pieces down, both for safekeeping, and because he was altering the walls of the kitchen. I carefully packed them all in a box, lined with packing material to protect them from breakage.
Recently my daughter gave me a small prism “for your collection,” but it needed hanging. When my friend Sue visited, I suggested she help me return the prisms to the light. Sue loves projects like this, and is comfortable using tools of all kinds. We located a drill and measuring tape, and before long Sue had seven cup hooks installed, ready for prisms.
The challenge was, I had many more than seven prisms to choose from. I sorted through, found the original piece that began my collection, put it with the newest piece from my daughter, then chose five more to fill the window. Sue looked at the numerous pieces still in the box and suggested, “I’m visiting my dear friend soon. Could I have two identical ones, one for her, and one for me, so we can each share the same rainbows?” Of course.
And so my kitchen is once again filled with rainbows. In summer I’ll have to rise early to catch the light, but in winter the rainbows take their time scattering across the kitchen. As I stand at the sink preparing food, clearing up from a meal, or simply looking out at the birds at my feeder, I can also take in the rainbows, cast hither and yon by these irregularly shaped pieces of glass. What began as a simple gift has taken on a life of its own, and has created gifts far beyond what I could ever have imagined.
We may think we control what we give to others, but we have no control over what happens to that gift once it leaves our hands. Not only is this as it should be, it is part of the magic of a giving. May you be blessed with gifts that reach far beyond yourself, whether you know what happens to those gifts, or not.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.