It’s where the heart is, there’s no place like it, and you’re always welcome there.
What comes to mind when you think about home? Hopefully, images of comfortable refuge, fond memories, laughter, milestones… It’s not about Thomas Kinkade paintings on the wall or grandmother’s fine china stored in the cabinets. That’s just stuff. It’s the relationships and traditions inside that create feelings, bonds, and memories.
It’s not the home we love, it’s the life that’s lived there.
Whether its a 400 sq ft shoebox apartment or a 10,000 sq ft mansion, the size doesn’t matter. If you’re lucky, home is where security is developed, bonds are formed, and a foundation is built to prepare you for the storms of life.
For me, 2824 S.W. 10th Street in Missouri has been what our family called home for the past two decades. The grandparent’s house was a place our large and boisterous clan gathered weekly. Think along the lines of the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” You get the gist.
The good ol’ porch.
Grandma (a.k.a. ‘Goddess”) was typically out front in her rocking chair with a cup of joe, always waiting to offer a big “hello” and a hug. The porch was “our place” where innumerable conversations took place. Words of encouragement. A little family advice to get through rough patches. Joys, successes, and triumphs… Everything from, “Were having a baby!” to “I got a promotion!”
The porch made such an impression on me that it was a must-have when we house hunted in Frisco.
It’s not quite home without a four-legged furball.
Not only did grandma wait for our arrival, but a majestic lion could be seen sprawled on the lawn in grand glory. Yes, the 120lb labrador “Ike” waited to greet the family. Before you could exit the car he was there at the door with a wagging tail ready to escort you inside.
He was such an affable dog, even when the kids tried to ride him “like a horsey.” Giddy-up horsey! After he was laid to rest, “Queen Zeu Zeu”, a reddish golden retriever came along. She always waited by grandma’s side on the porch.
Let’s meet in the kitchen.
Like most families, the kitchen was the heart of the home. It was always bustling! Little ones grabbed handfuls of food only to run out the door and play. Adults milled around to catch up on the latest gossip or tell a silly story.
Over 900 Sunday dinners have been eaten in that cozy kitchen. From prime rib to salads, or to enjoy the best-ever gin and tonics made by grandpa.
The refrigerator was well stocked with sweet treats, juice boxes, and sodas galore. Kids toted multiple cans of soda or juice boxes around because “grandma said” they could have one. She also said they could have that extra piece of dessert… Kids on a sugar high? That’s what grandparents are for.
Anyone whose grown-up in a big family knows that you better hit the food line ASAP. Grab your plate, your silverware, and food quickly – otherwise, it will be gone.
Oh and those coveted treats? Guard them with your life! In our family, it was the apple fritters. If you looked away for one measly second someone would steal your fritter. They were like gold. No one skipped Sunday dinner on apple fritter day.
Every November, Grandma’s hand-made Irish Butter Cookies would also make an appearance. These are the kind of cookies that you cannot stop eating. It was best to wear your fat pants during the fall season…
The family who plays together…
Post-dinner always called for a friendly game of cul-de-sac kickball or baseball. After we ran off all of the food, the playing cards came out. It was time for a bridge game around the kitchen table.
In the summer months, we gathered to swim prior to the big family meal. The kids loved to watch the adults go down the slide to see who could make the biggest walrus splash.
When I think of that house, it was a place always in motion. It’s the place where we watched all of the kids grow up and play together. We witnessed all “the firsts” from wobbly steps to babbling chatter. Toddlers to kids, gawky pre-teens to teenagers. There’s even a few college-aged kids that have turned into adults. My oh my how time has flown by!
Every December, we covered the poolside tabletop in plastic and let all the kids loose to decorate gingerbread houses. Sprinkles, gumdrops, and red hots could be seen everywhere…icing in every color. When finished, the pool table looked like a winter wonderland of gingerbread houses. Some, featuring traditional colors of greens, reds, and whites…others donned modern electric blue and pink.
Icing could be seen on faces, in hair, and down the front of clothes. It took weeks before every last sprinkle was finally cleaned up. It was well worth the fun.
A standout memory, naturally, is kids running down the stairs on Christmas Eve to open presents. The tree seemed gigantic with packages in abundance. Their eyes were as wide as saucers. Shrieks of joy echoed through the room as gifts were ripped open. Discarded paper was strewn across the tile floor. You would’ve thought a cyclone hit the house.
Oh how they loved ol’ Aunt Kate as she walked around with the Santa Tracker app on her phone. The kids would ask, “Where’s Santa now?” and she would reply, “Santa’s in the Netherlands!”
It kept the tiny tots entertained and gave grandma a boost getting all of the children out of the house and home to their beds.
This November my family will say goodbye to a house that has brought us two decades worth of love, laughter, heartbreak, and firsts. The last smoked turkey will be carved…the last funny story told. The key will click in the lock and we’ll say goodbye.
But the memories shared at this home will go on forever. And will be told to future generations to come.
As you gather with your family during the fall-a-days, don’t worry about whether or not the house looks perfect. Light a few candles and put out a delicious spread of food to graze on. Keep the focus placed on enjoying quality time spent with your family.
Create memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.