The Red Angel



I need to tell you a story:   

Prologue: The other day, I sat in the lobby of my condo building waiting for Hubsey to pick me up at the front door. As I sat on the bench, I admired the beautiful Christmas decorations all around me. A team of dedicated volunteers take time out of their lives every year to do this, and it truly is spectacular…inviting and festive to all residents and visitors who come through the lobby.

Main character: An elderly woman I didn’t know was sitting beside me, and I commented on how beautiful everything looked. She harumphed and said, “I hate that red angel on the top of the tree.”

The lines in the woman’s face deepened as she glared at the angel and added, “They should have put a white one, or a gold one, but not that cheap looking thing! It ruins everything!”

Point of view: Now the tree had to be 15 feet high, so from where I was sitting I had to really squint to see the details of this monstrosity she was talking about. But what I saw was a beautiful angel in a red velvet dress trimmed with white fur, sporting a set of magical feathery white wings. She was beautiful and angelic as angels should be, and simply perfect for the treetop.

Motivation: I thought about this woman for the rest of the day…I’m still thinking about her. Why was she so unhappy with this red angel and how could it possibly “ruin everything” as she said. And while I know deep down it wasn’t about the angel at all, I can’t help but wonder  what made her see the little red angel in that particular way?

Perhaps her children don’t call at Christmas?
Perhaps she deals with pain every waking moment?
Perhaps her shoes were too tight?
Perhaps Santa has forgotten her too many times?
Perhaps she is lonely?
Perhaps her father was a nasty drunk every Christmas?
Perhaps all her old friends have died?
Perhaps she has outlived her money?
Perhaps the colour red makes her see red?
Perhaps she was simply constipated?

Epilogue: Whatever the reason, the fact remains that we see the world from where we sit…together with all our glory and carbuncles. And our view is distorted by the amount of baggage we choose to drag along behind us.  Life’s a bitch, there’s no doubt about that! It’s how we deal with the successes, failures and challenges that defines how we see life’s ever changing landscape.

Serendipity: Coincidentally, someone tweeted this picture recently, which I would like to share with you. I don’t know the tweeter, so I apologize if I am using the picture without permission, whoever you are. But it’s a great message and if I knew who the woman was that I met in the lobby, I would stick it under her door. It’s never too late to see the beautiful red angels in our lives.

Image 1


See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene






24 responses »

  1. Bah humbug! Perhaps this was a Christmas miracle! One of your book characters came to life, of course that would be the old woman in the vinegar bottle! Serves you right for writing such fascinating tales! She will most likely not be back until next Christmas! Well done!


    • Of course! You’re right! It was Gertie Cramp in disguise! She was always changing her persona in the Tale of Two Biddys story because she was so dissatisfied with her life. I didn’t even recognize the old battle-axe! Good catch Blanche!


    • I love the red angel and the message! Its so true that our view is distorted by the amount of baggage we choose to drag along behind us. Have you ever noticed that in general old people complain a whole lot more than young people do..and small children don’t complain. They may whine but they don’t complain. I think the baggage combined with all of your aforementioned speculations are the reasons why. So from now on I’m going to try to act like a young person…hopefully without breaking a hip!!


  2. Great story …. you tend to have a jug of water next to that glass-half-full. What good is complaining about a half empty glass if you aren’t going to remedy that? 🙂


    • Complaining and being miserable causes wrinkles my dear. It’s all about how we look that matters, don’t you know that? Smiling through the pain and keeping that jug of water filled to the brim can get you through anything. Life’s little lesson for you today Andi Pandi.


  3. There are always people in this world who only see the negative, their wish is to be an authority and to continue the misery. It is very important for us to recognize that characteristic in others and never let them rent a nanosecond in our brain. Their lives are not always worse than ours, but they find solace in their misery. Pat, I applaud and wish to honor you for being such a gift to life and it’s beauty.


  4. I loved your story! It was good to be reminded to look at the positive side of everything!
    I agree with Blanche…the woman in your lobby sure sounded like the old woman in the vinegar bottle story. One of my favourites!


    • Thanks Britt Girl…sometimes it can be hard to see the positive side of things when life gives you a good swift kick in the pants! But we simply have to keep on truckin’!
      I think it was Gertie Cramp inn the lobby! So amazing I didn’t recognize her. I’ll have to see if she is registered here.


  5. Thanks for the blog we all need to be reminded to appreciate each minute, the people and the things in our lives. This lady sounds like a very unhappy person. I hope whatever is making her so unhappy will change in the New Year.


  6. Too bad you couldn’t spend some time with this women and show her how to be happy. I think the picture of the angel looks like a face with a big hooked nose. But funny. Keep on being happy. We need more of it.


    • A big hooked nose? Really? How lovely is that? Angels with big hooked noses have so much more personality than the Barbie doll looking Angels, don’t you think? Thanks for checking in Rumpel. You are one weird puppy!


  7. Love this. We have so little control over so many things in life, but we have 100% control of our our attitude and behaviour. Its so much more fun to be the positive change every day than spend time complaining.


    • Well said! Couldn’t agree with you more. And I must clarify here that “ranting” and “complaining” are not the same thing…in my books anyway. Ranting provides an outlet for a point of view, bringing an issue to the forefront to be dealt with in a more reflective and/or effective manner. We all have to get the rantz out of our pantz once in a while.


  8. She just seems to be stuck in the past seeing traditional angels of white! Personally, my angels always show up wearing many colours. I LOVE the message in the sign tweeted to you and happen to know it does work!! So happy to see you back blogging again Pat. 😊


  9. Your story and the tweeted photograph were the perfect match to make me reflect on my behavior and how I don’t like the sound of myself complaining; so I think I’ll accept the 24 hr. challenge and remind myself of the red angel every time I open my mouth to complain. If it works, you will have given me the best Christmas present of the season. PS Your list of the possible reasons for the lady’s unhappiness was so funny, the best laugh I’ve had all day.


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