Fireplaces: R.I.P.

My tardy yet heartfelt requiem

        I mourned the restrictions on use of Fireplaces this Season, and realized they were ‘driving the last nails into the coffin’ of this lovely part of many homes.

        No, they didn’t say Fireplaces, but only specified ‘wood burning’, but where else do we burn wood, except in our Fireplaces? They made their point.

        I was shocked. A fire has been the comforting heart of a home since Cave Man days. And since written history began, all books, paintings, stories, and poetry about homes, have spoken or pictured the Fireplace.

        Kid’s books are filled with pictures of Santa standing at the side of the burning logs while filling the stocking, or, in adulthood, all literature of home, from Charles Dickens before and after, centered as a matter of course at that spot.

        But it’s over.   I hadn’t noticed the change, but now I am aware of what’s happened, I realize that homes, for almost 60 years. have not been built with Fireplaces. And, finding that almost all of those who do have Fireplaces, have, in some way, ‘closed them off’ .

        Those lovely songs of “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, “Throw another log on the fire”, “Stocking hung by the fire, with care”, are now, sadly, only  shadows of another lifetime. Relics of the past. No longer necessary. Bad for our environment and lungs. and nearing the point of being put in the same category as the “One Horse Open Sleighs”.

        It also surprised me to know that it’s been several years since I had the inner walls of my garage lined with cut logs ready to ‘bring in’ for a fire. where I burned them constantly and not just for Christmas.                            

        Not too long ago, it was impossible to ever, ever, ever, find a story or picture of Christmas without that friendly fire being shown. No story, movie, book, of home, could be without the Fireplace.

        In searching for the reason for not needing the Fireplace, it was another surprise to find that the idea of HOME is far different than it was a generation ago. Home until WW2 was where we spent most of our time. Now, the longest stretch of time spent at home is when we sleep

        We eat breakfast at home, but not all at the same times, or the same food and whatever we eat, it is usually a ‘prepared’ meal of some sort. Lunch is eaten where ever we happen to be, and seldom at home.

        During the day the family is scattered. Children dropped off at Day Care. others in School, at Jobs and the evenings and week ends, spent . . . . get ready for a surprise . . . but the favorite hobby for our free hours is shopping and prowling the malls. Movies are favorites for weekends, and only when we’re tired and ‘worn out’. do we go home.  And for what reason?  Only to sleep.

        Our home-life changes began in WW 2 when women were needed in the factories, but whatever caused the change, the family and home of years prior to WW 2, are no more.

        Some retired people choose to still live in their home, but, many often prefer Group Housing where they are with other retirees and their days filled with planned activities. The majority of our lives, no matter what age, are no longer spent at home.

        Today’s homes, and becoming more so, are either apartments or condos, with no lawns, gardens, and, all ideas of former life styles are swiftly disappearing. Fireplaces???? Not even mentioned.

        And I wonder if I’m the only one missing the glowing fire, logs close by, ready to add to the flames, and the home bathed in a warmth that the finest furnace in the world cannot rival. But the truth is; they are no longer needed, and no longer ever planned to be part of a home. The automatic furnace began edging them out, and now regular furnaces are being eliminated by Solar Heat, with other changes right on the horizon.

        But it was like a blow to the body, to actually read, and hear on the news that wood burning (i.e. the use of Fireplaces) is now actually illegal.

       I feel like my words today are a tardy requiem, belatedly written long, long, after the ‘death’ took place. It crept up so slowly and silently that I can but ask: “Where was I? How did I miss what was happening?” But just the same, the use of Fireplaces has become,  truly and now lawfully, a thing of the past.  And I, for one, am sorry.

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