“That house was a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien
I am an art lover. By this I mean that I like what I like and love what I love and don’t care much if it is actually in “good taste” or particularly cultured. Our walls are a mix of old lithographs, font and text art — I’m a sucker for it, black and white line drawings, and prints. Of all the things I have hauled home to stick on our walls the quote above is undoubtedly my favorite.
It is framed and hangs in our kitchen today. In truth, it has moved around the house to various rooms. Wherever it lands, it is among my favorite pieces to see. To me this old quote really sums up our home and, in a perfect world, every home.
Notice I do not say “house.” A house is a structure, a home is peace of mind, comfort and acceptance. Our daughter, now grown, still refers to our home as “a magical house.” I smile at this as if the house itself imbues the sense of warmth and joy she associates with time spent there. Who knows, perhaps it does? It has absorbed generations of feeling, after all.
In our time here, it has been a newlywed home, a new parent home, a growing family home and now an “empty nest” home. I bristle a bit at that last one, as I don’t feel “empty.” Grown and changed, certainly, but empty? Not really.
They come home often and bring partners and friends. Mr. Wonderful and I welcome our friends too. We have small dogs and a big cat and two goats and probably, being November, a mouse or two, too.
As we celebrated Thanksgiving together, I endeavored, as usual, to make the house “perfect.” I swept and shined and fussed with the table settings. I folded napkins, lit candles and washed all the cuddly blankets and throw pillows (we do have dogs, after all).
The family arrived, offspring, fiance, in-laws and more. Coats were hung on the backs of chairs and boots were kicked off by the door.
In moments, my pristine house looked decidedly more “lived in.” GirlWonder commandeered the kitchen to make her newly famous pumpkin pie. It’s a milestone in a young adult’s life when you find your “special dish” that will be requested at future gatherings. As it turns out our girl makes an amazing, perfectly spiced and nuanced, pumpkin pie.
So far BoyWonder still mostly makes a mess, but that may change. He’s done some good things with shrimp and stir fry. That’s just harder to work into holiday fare.
As the day unfolded for Thanksgiving, we snuggled in fuzzy blankets on old sofas and chairs. We ate pie off plates that are nearing a century old, using silverware that is close to the same age in a house that is decidedly older. We told stories and yes, some slept. There was so much food.
My mother beat us fair and square in more than one game of Othello. I haven’t played that game in close to 40 years and, as it turns out, I’m still not very good at it.
Perhaps I should put more time into “sitting and thinking.” Time moves pretty fast, and to me, one of the best feelings of “home” is to make sure that when loved ones walk through the door they never doubt that our home is a comfortable place to be.
No matter how near or far we go in the outside world and how wonderfully hectic that may be, home should be where the heart is. My heart will always be in creating a haven that may not be technically “perfect,” but that will always be a perfectly soft place to land.
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