Special Occasions

The Gift of Home

Decorated

Christmas decorations.

This is my 12th Christmas season spent living in Grandma’s house. In March of 2005 – 9 years after her passing – I had the opportunity to buy this rundown little bungalow and make it new again.

My grandparents, my dad’s folks, built this place the year after I was born. They moved into town after selling their farm. Grandma lived here 28 years before she died and thanks to the loving people that cared for her, she was able to live here until her brief hospital stay prior to her death.

I remember Christmases here surrounded by these same walls and by people I loved. On Christmas Eve, the tradition was for us kids to open one specially-selected gift. This gift was always the homemade pajamas that Grandma had spent the autumn sewing in the same basement where I now watch the flat screen TV from my elliptical trainer.

This house isn’t large. It’s only about 900 hundred square feet, but in those days, you could cram a lot of overnight and supper guests into it. We weren’t as worried about impressing, but instead the emphasis was on being together all in one place and under one roof, this roof.

This house remains although some of the people are gone now from us. And like the people who remain, the house is older, a little creakier, but just as familiar. Together this house and I hold the memories of days and people past. As long as this house and I are here, so are they.

Me by a hotel Christmas tree.

Me by a hotel Christmas tree.

I’ve learned that over a decade spent in any one place can give a really clear picture of the impermanence of everything and everyone. Since coming to this community, I’ve grown to love its people and I’ve attended some of their funerals. I’ve shared meals and drinks and photos and chores. I’ve given gifts to new parents and then I had the chance to teach those children who didn’t yet exist when I first arrived here.

From Grandma’s house, I’ve watched the years move by more closely, more clearly than they would’ve moved by anywhere else. Here, the years are thick with memories, dripping with history, and sweet with sentiment.  To live on this ever-moving continuum for this part of my life has been a gift. This Christmas season and after 12 years, this house in this place and time still feels like this best present I’ve ever received.

Heavy with frost.

Christmastime branches heavy with frost.

 

 

2 replies »

  1. This slice of “living” memory is both funny:
    “This gift was always the homemade pajamas that Grandma had spent the autumn sewing …” left me wondering if, like the brothers in “A Christmas Story,” you exchanged looks and tossed them over your shoulders, intent on getting to the “good stuff.”
    It’s wonderful that you could get your grandparents’ home nine years after your grandmother died–since it’s hard to imagine it just set there all those years, I’m taking it someone else had bought it in the interim.
    And poignant:
    “I remember Christmases here surrounded by these same walls and by people I loved.”
    Yes, it always comes down to this. When I see greedy, grasping people in the world, I think this sense of belonging and being loved, of being enough in oneself must never have happened for them.
    Joyeux Noel!

    Like

    • Thanks, Amy! You’ve inspired me to repost the story of who the house belonged to before I bought it, about washing blood off the walls and scraping chemicals out of the stovetop…When I ger greedy and graspy this house helps to ground me.

      Like

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