My parents built and moved into their current home when I was 4 years old. In the beginning, living was rough – with basically just the shell of a house, there were no doors on the inside – just drywall, windows, and chipboard floors. My dad wanted to pursue woodworking as a hobby, so he worked project by project, room by room for more than 3 decades.
Now that he’s well into his retirement, his projects are finally wrapping up. Long ago he added the doors, trim, cabinets, banister, and mantle. He laid a tile floor, hardwood floors, and stonework around the fireplace – and outside on the chimney.
He and my mom worked together to landscape their property, and what used to be tiny saplings when I was a girl have now grown into towering, shady trees.
Their home is visual proof that small steps can make a huge difference. It might have seemed like an arduously long process, but their house is done.
The practice of hospitality
Over the years, regardless of the home improvement projects, my parents have opened their home time and time again. They’ve taught me what hospitality looks like – you open your home, no matter how modest or fabulous it is, and bless others with good food, good company, and good times.
Since I was young, I’ve helped prepare for so many of their parties. We’ve hosted baby showers and bridal showers, family reunions and pig roasts, sleepovers and campouts, birthday parties and graduation parties, Thanksgiving dinners and Easter dinners, Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve bashes.
The preparation details were memorized long ago – the dusting, vacuuming, window washing and bathroom cleaning. I know what dishes and glasses need to be brought down from storage and where to find the appropriate tablecloths or candles.
I was reminded of all of this last week, as I helped my aging mother prepare for the latest party – a living funeral, of sorts, for my uncle. After so many years of celebrations, it’s heartbreaking to reach this stage in the party circuit. Yet sorrows and losses are just as much a part of life as joys and celebrations.
Throughout the years I’ve helped my mom prepare for many of my uncle’s visits – I made welcome signs as soon as I could write, and helped with more of the cleaning tasks the older I grew. It is so hard to believe it’s already time to say goodbye. And it is so hard to believe that 35 years of parties have come and gone in a flash.
There’s no place like home
As I lovingly dusted and decorated last week, I realized how much joy and comfort a home can bring. Only life can turn a house into a home.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when that change happens – does it happen on a certain Christmas morning or Easter egg hunt? During a snowstorm or a middle-of-the-night sickness? When you’re carving pumpkins or catching fireflies in the yard?
Or does the change come with the accumulation of memories? Is it found in the dear remembrances of the faces and voices of loved ones who have come to laugh, cry, and share a meal?
However and whenever it happens, it can happen. Home becomes a comforting haven. When that does happen, it is the most beautiful thing.
What has been your favorite home? Please describe it!
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