In 1954, Perry Como told us that there was no place like home for the holidays. It's a bit of a cliché I know, but this year the saying means more to me than ever.
Over the summer, our mortgage jumped and then things went a bit sour at my husband's job. We still have plenty of options and I know how lucky that makes us (and how grateful I am, believe me), but one thing is clear: we can't stay here long term. That realization would probably hit most people harder than it's hit us, me in particular, but the thing is that I've never really felt as if this house was my home.
When my husband and I started dating (you know, back before he was my husband), we each had a house. I loved mine, it was the home I'd grown up in. His house was a convenience. He moved in with his uncle when he got a job in this neighborhood and the two of them struck a deal for my husband to buy the place. Then I came along and we talked about it and made the logical choice. His house was 30 years younger than mine and mine needed a bunch of repairs. I sold my place and he put my name on his, making it ours.
There are few things I've regretted more in my life.
I was raised by my grandmother; she'd owned the house I grew up in since before I was born. Although there's no love lost between my mother and I, I slept in the same bed my mother did as a child. I knew ever pop and ping of the furnace, every squeaky floor board--and yes, every drafty window and just where to put the pots and pans to catch the rain leaking through the roof as soon as it started to storm. I knew exactly how to cool it down in summer because unlike this place, it didn't have central air. I knew just how many things I could plug into any given outlet before a fuse blew and right where the fuse box was. Several of the neighbors had lived there since I was a little kid.
The house I'm living in now is okay. I have a great yard and fantastic neighbors. It's quiet and I've got a park right across the street. But I've never been entirely happy here. I can count off the things I don't like about it, but the real problem is that when I dream about being at home, even if it's my life now with my husband and seventeen year old daughter, we're never living here. We're living in the house I grew up in because that's "home" in my heart. I know we won't actually be able to move there (it's not even on the market), but I'm looking at the fact that we have to move as a chance to find a place that can be my home.
The ironic thing is that there's an ongoing theme in my stories. It started with Heart's Home. The title says it all: they're looking for home. The boys in my other books are looking for home, too. They're looking for the place that they belong. (And yes, that's a shameless plug for my WiP, A Place to Belong ;-)
This time of year especially, I think people long for home. For me, home is my grandmother's walnut ball cookies (she only made them at Christmas) and cup of coffee (although I'll skip the instant that she used to drink and make some in my coffee press). It's her chicken soup (my husband can tell how well it didn't go over when he altered the recipe!) It's kalopchee (cabbage rolls). Home is fresh tomatoes picked from the vine at my Aunt Mary's house and my uncle's gruff voice. It's the happy, safe feeling of waking up with the sun on my face the world's ugliest floral sheets under my nose. (They would have been right at home in the Brady house).
Home is feeling.
I'd love to hear what makes your house feel like home, especially around this time of year.
For me, I can recapture that feeling of home by baking walnut ball cookies from memory, putting in the Nutcracker on DVD (the old, old, old one with Mikhail Baryshnikov that I used to watch every year when it came on PBS) and decorating the tree with my husband and daughter. I've got just a very few ornaments left from when I was a kid but they're far and away my favorites).
Leave a comment below and I'll pick one winner to receive a signed copy of any one of my books. (International entries are always welcome.) If you want to check out the titles, you can click on the links above for Heart's Home, Bound: Forget Me Knot, or Hanging by the Moment.
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