The Third Space

We call "dibs" on this tree in our town square. It's our biggest yet!

We don’t have a Christmas tree this year, unless we count the 50-foot one in our third space.

Never heard of a third space? It is a jargon-piece belonging to architects and city planners. The first two spaces are the private and public rooms inside the home.

The third space is the exterior public space, such as restaurants, town squares, parks, bus stops. Okay, I added bus stops on my own, but they seem like third-spaces to me.*

"Our" Christmas decorations this year are bigger than basketballs!

Here’s why. The third space is a sort of living room for the population. Anybody can be there. Third-spaces are everywhere in Europe, especially in densely populated areas where private living spaces are too small to adequately serve the social and emotional needs of their occupants. And so, the occupants head out elsewhere, as a preventive measure against roommate or family homicide. In North America, Starbucks fills this role nicely.  Playgrounds are another example of third-spaces. But I ramble …

Stand still for longer than two seconds and you run the risk of being grabbed and festooned. This is actually a mild form of dog-decorating. We used to outfit our yellow lab in a complete harness of bells, antlers, etc.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to look upon the magnificent Christmas tree in our town square as my own. It’s the only tree I will have this year, which is going to be something of an experience.

Even our neighbour's dogs are not safe from my decorating mania. Deck the dogs in wraps of woolens, fa la la la la, la la la la.

Why? Because, I am a Christmas-decorating nut. Every year, my house turns into a red, tinsel and bauble warehouse with trees of all sizes appearing in every corner and on every countertop.  It is out-of-control. It takes weeks to pull together and weeks to take apart.

I don’t see anything wrong with this.

This year, however, I am restricted to two little white-poinsettia plants on our dining room table on the strength of the reasoning that there is no point in buying decorations I cannot bring home.

How sad, but not too sad because the time I used to devote to decking the halls is now spent in endless browsing through Christmas decorations in local stores, a pastime that is feeding my imagination for when I decorate next year (my husband will not be happy to read this).

For those wondering: The current craze in Swiss Christmas decorations leans towards a style that would fit in nicely with Canadian cottages. They are very earthy, roughshod and fuzzily charming.

Lights of Life Christmas display at Marietta, Georgia, Chiropractic College

In the meantime, there’s all these third-space decorations to enjoy.

*As explained to me by a Montreal architect whose name I forget, calling into question whether I remember his “third-space” monologue well enough. Would it not be interesting if I was fascinated enough in my topic to actually fact-check it?

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2 thoughts on “The Third Space

  1. When Bob was in Deep River I founds cute pop up tree I was able to pita string of tiny lights on it and it folded flat for packing

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