Battening Down the Hatches


Battening down the hatches describes our activities this time of year, don’t you think? It’s all we seem to be doing these days, in one form or another.

The patio furniture has been stored away, even if all that means is stacking it on the side of the house and covering it with a tarp. The barbeque grill is under cover and the Velcro straps are all secured, the flag has been taken down for the season and the boats are out of the water- engines winterized and tarps bungied from one side to the other. And the sailboat? Well, it’s in the marina with the brass padlocks securing the hatch.

Let the storms begin! We are ready…or are we?

There may be more to battening down the hatches than all that. The word batten means to secure. And what is a hatch? It’s a small connecting door. So, battening down the hatches is the same as saying secure all small connecting doors, regardless of where they connect: to the cabin of a boat, to an attic, through the floor to a crawl space, or maybe, just maybe, something as totally unexpected as to the door to our hearts. That door has a special lock and a special key.

I don’t believe we are born with a lock on our hearts, I imagine we purchase one with the onset of our first hurt. Sadly, for some it happens when they are quite young. But if you are lucky, it isn’t until around adolescence, a time when tender hearts get hurt often and easily and we learn to batten down the hatch. On goes the padlock, throw away the key.

The heart rules. It becomes hardened or soft by the tides of life, the highs and lows, ebbs and flows. The question is how much healing, how much time, and what needs to happen, before a damaged heart heals and allows the locks to be removed. What needs to happen before a person opens their arms and their heart once again?

Some of us wait too long, far longer than ideal for a life as short as it is. The brave ones pick themselves up by the boot straps and dare to love again, to trust, to give each other another chance by opening the hatch wide and maybe not throwing away the key; maybe just hiding it with hope it will never need to be used again.

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes many mixed emotions. I love this time of year, yet notice a great relief when it is over; when I’ve successfully dealt with the difficult relative or two, cooked until I’ve become Julia Child, and spent more money than I have.  It’s a testy time. Through the years I’ve discovered it best that I approach this very special season prepared for any number of scenarios and with a wide open heart.

It may be time to batten down some hatches yet open up others. Let yourself enjoy the holiday season this year. Promise not to get too caught up in the commercialization of it all and focus on family, friends, and mending fences. Be the one with the wide open heart that made the holidays of 2012 a great and happy memory.


Mary Ann




1 thought on “Battening Down the Hatches

  1. How very true. I love your careful reflection on the truths of the Christmas season and all that goes with it.
    I hope this year will be a big open-hearted joyous season.

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