What Makes A House A Home?
I grew up in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, in a three bedroom, red brick ranch that my parents purchased in 1984. This is where my parents settled and raised me and my two younger brothers. Our house for the most part was a cookie-cutter mold of approximately every fourth house on the block. The street was and still is lined with large, grandfathering maple trees. I have fond memories of the trees during the fall season. The changing shades of the leaves – simply beautiful.
Beyond the cookie-cutter mold though, what made our house a home?
Was it the tiny kitchen that always had my mother begging for solitude and more space, so she could bake her next cake? Was it my father threatening to go to a hotel if my mother baked another cake? That still makes me laugh, but he was really serious. Looking back, I suppose even the smell of sweetness can become unbearable after that threshold is crossed. Was it my inability to eat “just one” of those delicious overflowing with goodness cupcakes, oh so soft and fluffy, topped with that amazingly light and sugary buttercream icing? Or was it the fact that my brother, “the middle child”, teased me relentless for being fat? Isn’t it amazing how brothers show their love?
Was it the smell of freshly cut grass that only my father could cut “perfectly”? “If I want it done right, then I will do it myself.” Or maybe it was all of hockey equipment that scented our basement and effortlessly reminded us of countless hours spent at our home away from home? Was it the childhood memory of my brothers and I standing in a circle around the basement drain, having a liberating experience peeing down the hole; that is, until being caught and experiencing the parental wrath for wrong-doing? On a fresher note, maybe it was the excitement of warm weather and the annual opening of our pool? Or maybe the more distant memories of all of our smaller-sized blow-up and plastic pools that once browned and matted the Earth, which allowed us kids hours upon hours of fun?
Oh, and then there are the memories of Christmas and the beautiful decorations and the fabulous tree that my parents adorned with more presents than any child ever deserves. How ungrateful our young hearts were. Oh and all of that wrapping paper had to be cleaned up, so each of us became accustomed to having our own black, plastic Glad garbage bag. One could never forget all of those fatherly outbursts that accompanied our Dad cleaning, which eventually became incentive for us to step up and volunteer to clean. Who am I kidding; my Mom really is the one who did it all.
Could it have been all of the talks with my Dad? I think back to all of the memories of sitting next to him on my parents’ bed talking his head off, despite his attempt to escape to his “sanctuary” for some alone time and well, of course, CNN. Or could it possibly be, the hours of time spent lying belly-down on the living room floor playing Mario Cart and hearing how we were cheating? “You know”, we couldn’t possibly have beat our Dad fair and square. Oh and those who had the pleasure of meeting my father understand what I am saying when I quote, “You know.”
Was it the times when my Dad experienced unemployment and stayed home with us as our hardworking, selfless Mom spent time away; working sometimes 3 hospital shifts in a row to help make ends meet? Was it overhearing my father come in years later, following the beginning of his employment at Chrysler, when he confided in my Mom? I recall lying in bed and overhearing him tell her how he didn’t know if he could physically do what his job would require him to do. My Dad’s body did perform despite aches and pains, undesirable afternoon shifts, and consequently, unfortunate health issues relating to stress, because his greatest concern was always the well being of his family. Was it hearing my parents get into an argument, or was it seeing them sit together with outward displays of affection and love, or was it witnessing them enjoy doing most everything together as one? Oh, the memories go on and on. Each of these memories etched into our home on Star Valley Drive.
What makes a house a home? Personally, I think that our memories do. What do you think?
Now, married and part of a family of three, I look back at these memories from my home on Star Valley Drive; and, I cannot help myself as I look forward. I look at our 8 month old baby boy, Jack, and like every well-meaning parent, I wish the very best for him. What will he understand home to be?
On this whirlwind journey of life, will my husband, Tim, and I ever settle into a permanent dwelling? Or is the greater plan for our family one with more travel, more adventure, and more uncertainty? Faith uprooted us from Michigan to life on an island, so we can only imagine where we will end up.
Could it be that Jack will find his home to extend beyond the confines of four walls? Or for that matter, territorial dividing lines and cultural norms and ideas?
What memories make your house a home? I would love to learn and possibly implement some of your memories of a home into our own home.
Please share some of your favorite memories in the comment section.