You know, I really like my house. It’s a townhouse, not big but a nice place – nice kitchen, huge master bedroom and master bath, Jacuzzi tub, fireplace, open first floor. My grandson, Chapin, told me once that if I cleaned it up some more it could be one of those houses in a magazine (not exactly Martha Stewart here). Yeah, I like my house. But I love my home.
Some people have huge mansions, some have perfectly maintained spotless houses, and some just have a place to hang their hat and take a shower. No matter what the physical building is like, there is a big difference between a house and a home.
A house is a building where people can do the tasks of daily life. It might have no personality so you keep looking for the sign that says when check-out time is. It might be cold and sterile so that you are can’t relax. It could be so pristine and put-together that you are afraid to touch anything.
On the other hand, a home lets you walk in and exhale. It can be a shack, a row house, an apartment, or a mansion. It has nothing to do with how it looks. It is all about how it feels. A home exudes love. And it isn’t only loving to the folks who have unpacked their stuff and pay the bills. It welcomes others in to join the people who live there.
I got to thinking about this after writing a Facebook post about the start of 2018. I ended the post saying, “I love having my friends and family here and how everyone who comes feels comfortable enough to help themselves to food and drink, prop up their feet, and make themselves at home. That’s what I always want my home to be.”
I was relishing the New Year’s Day I had just had with my family stopping by. I had some there at lunch time and others at dinner. But it wasn’t just them that I was thinking about by the time I finished writing the post.
My friends come to my home often. We had a book club that met for dinner and discussion. We get together for holidays, birthdays, and just because we feel like it. They walk in singing out “hello” or “we’re here.” If I didn’t leave the door open, most of them have keys and could come in anyway. They throw their coats on the bench in the hall or hang them up if they choose. Joe and Rob go to the beer fridge and bring up some bottles. Denise picks out a wine. Mary Sue checks out what needs to be done in the kitchen. And they all jump in to get dinner on the table and to pick up after. We watch Jeopardy, we play a game, or we just sit and chat without ever running out of interesting things to talk about. On a night six years ago as I was at the hospital awaiting the birth of my granddaughter, they all still came to my home for dinner as we had planned. They cooked the New Year’s Eve dinner I had on the menu and awaited news of the impending birth.
And it isn’t always long time friends. As an example, I had a former student Tony who was attending Messiah College near here. He used to stop by for a visit when the mood struck. He became comfortable here. He would come in and make himself a cup of tea, help me decorate the Christmas tree, jump into whatever was going on, or just sit and visit. He was here one night when others stopped by, and he took over as host making tea for everyone. He’s moved away, gotten busy as a married man, a father, and a doctor now. I miss him just stopping by.
I have friends and family who come for visits from out of town. They really make themselves at home! My friend Sherri and my father come for weeks or months at a time. All three of us usually live alone and that often leads to us yelling and tripping over each other, but I love that they feel like they can come and make my home theirs too.
Lots of people comment that my house is lovely. I think it’s pretty nice, but what I really love is when they tell me why they like it. They usually tell me it’s comfy, it’s homey, or it’s cozy. I want everyone to come in, grab something to drink or eat, kick your shoes off, curl up on the sofa, and spend some time with me. Browse through my books, talk about them, and borrow one. Maybe pop some popcorn and watch a movie. That’s what makes my house a home.
I am always ready for friends and family to come by. Just remember Chapin’s critique because there are days it will be a mess (oh, who am I kidding…it will probably be messy and cluttered with my books and papers and dishes). But you will be welcomed! I am always ready to stop whatever is going on, brew some coffee, and visit.