A House is Not a Home
My parent’s house has been a part of my entire life. My paternal grandfather had the house built for his family in 1930. We still have the blueprints and paperwork that shows it cost him a little over $6000 to have it built during the depression. My father moved into the house when he was two and he lived there until he married my mother in 1948. They moved to a little, post-war tract house several miles east. That is where my sisters and I lived when we were little.
We visited our grandparents often, spending the night, celebrating holidays and birthdays. In 1963, when my grandparents retired and moved, we moved into their big house. We were so excited to move into Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was so big compared to our little house. It had stairs, a big yard, 3 bathrooms, and it had two bedrooms for my 2 sisters and I instead of just one. This is where we “grew” up. This was our home. This is where so many of our childhood memories were formed. My sisters and I all lived there until we got married.
We continued to celebrate holidays and birthdays at my parents home. We all still lived very close and visited our parents often. The house became synonymous with Christmas morning. with stockings stuffed by my Mom and hung from the big mantle. It was easy to still feel that magic of Christmas there. Our daughters grew to love the house as much as we did. They spent even more time there than we had when it was our grandparent’s house.There were other fond memories made in that house. My older sister, Kathy and I always had camellias on the table for our birthday dinner in February. Camellias from the garden that my grandparents had planted when my father was a little boy. My younger sister, Janet and I played the piano that had been our grandmother’s. We loved playing wedding and cutting my Mom’s prized hydrangeas as our wedding bouquet. There was the neatest little courtyard that we loved to make tents on with all the blankets we could find and camp out. The breakfast room table was the site of many a rowdy game of multi-player solitaire between my mom and sisters. We would all giggle ourselves silly until my dad escaped upstairs. And the big dining room table was used for jigsaw puzzles. Hundreds of them!
In 2003 when my Dad died, he died in the home he had lived nearly his entire life, with his whole family at his side. After he died, my Mom did not think for a moment of moving out of their home, even though it was so big and hard for her to manage. Christmas was still spent with her with the stockings hung from the mantle. In 2008 she lost her long battle with cancer. She died on December 26 after we all spent Christmas with her at the house.
My sisters and I inherited the house and none of us were interested in living there. My oldest niece and her family lease the house from us with hope of buying it some day. She could not stand the thought of losing our family home. Nobody wanted to think about how things would change without it. She hoped that we could still have those family celebrations there for the holidays.
For me it was not the same anymore, it was not our home with both my parents gone. It was someone else’s home now, where a new family will make their memories. We still go there for family celebrations. We’ve always rotated those celebrations from home to home, so it would be natural for us to still go there. And my niece has her own children now, so of course we go there for her little girl’s birthday parties. We are making new traditions for Christmas though. I have not felt like going there for Christmas. I know my niece was originally disappointed and I feel a bit like a scrooge. In part that was why she wanted to hang on to the house. But for me my home is not just a place, it is people that make it a home. For me, a house is not a home.