By: Mary Fran Bontempo
To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at colors lately.

In the fall, I made the clearly ill-thought out decision to repaint both of our bathrooms as well as our powder room, foolishly believing that by Thanksgiving (HA!), I’d have three “new” bathrooms.

I’m still hoping to have the painting done by Thanksgiving, but now I’m figuring Thanksgiving, 2013.

Choosing paint colors is a daunting undertaking, as anyone confronted with thousands of tiny rectangular paint swatches along a home improvement store wall can attest. Yet, despite past experience, you go into the process with enthusiasm, figuring that picking a favorite color can’t possibly be that hard and should even be kind of fun.

And then you choose “Iced Tea” for the downstairs powder room, which looks like a warm, rich brown on the swatch and on, say, a pair of pants, but on the wall looks like…well, let’s just say it’s an appropriate, but perhaps unfortunate color for a powder room.

So favorite colors can be misleading at best, evocative of things better left undiscussed at worst.

But today, as I wonder for the umpteenth time how in the world I’m going to tell my son, also my painter, that the “Iced Tea” needs to be flushed (pun intended), I’ve decided with absolute certainty what my favorite colors are: Red, white and blue.

As I write this, I’m watching the inauguration of President Obama on TV. (I’m also looking at the powder room out of the corner of my eye, but I’m trying to ignore it.) The flag of our great nation is on display everywhere, its red, white and blue brilliance waving majestically for all the world to see.

The inauguration of a United States President, whether or not you agree with the politics involved, is an amazing thing. The fact that, in a nation as vast as ours, with all of our differences of beliefs and opinions, we can transfer the power of the most important position on the planet to a president peacefully and with celebration is a testament to democracy and to our people.

For me and many Americans, red, white and blue serve as visual symbols of the very freedoms that allow us to elect a president, to freely embrace our beliefs and even to freely disagree with the beliefs of others.

Red, white and blue. Three colors, three bathrooms. Hmmm…maybe I’ve found the answer to my paint problem after all.

What are your thoughts on paint and the inauguration? Click “comments” below and share!