I think that we all have words that bounce around in our head all day. We chase them, they wander, we attempt to round up our thoughts. The difficulty with thoughts, even rather eloquent thoughts, is that they don’t always have a clear starting place. We may have a good, pithy thought run through our mind, but how did we get to the epiphany moment? But, words on paper (lovely thick paper or virtual on a screen) must have a place to start. Here is my attempt.
I remember when I was a little girl I read a Bernstein Bears book (of all places to find home décor inspiration!). In it, Sister Bear (do you remember her? always pink polka dotted, pink bow) cleans out her closet. It had a beautiful end (predictable you might think, but a clean closet is not always what happens when I clean out a closet): a tidy closet, full of shelves with a labeled (gasp!) box for each category of toys. I wasn’t some huge Bernstein Bears fan. I read whatever books I came across (still love to read). But, this story struck a chord with me. A spark was lit. I remember wanting to clean up my entire closet that day.
I have always enjoyed visiting the homes of people. Even as a child, I was drawn to houses that were homes. They had a feel. What was it? What made them feel cozy? Was it tidy or untidy? Can dishware communicate safety and belonging? Striped curtains? No curtains?
I think mostly it is: thoughtfulness.
It can be someone caring to cook breakfast or to bake cookies, even in a house that is a bit of a cluttered mess (in fact, I think there are some good words to be said for some clutter adding coziness. A stack of books, a bit disheveled, creating a mini tower on the floor near an over-stuffed armchair with a throw, anyone? Me! Yes! And also, my husband, but he pushes the limits of this analogy. There would be seven towers tempting me to talk about tripping hazards. Clutter has its limits.)
But, also, I think it is that we can tell if someone cares. One of the things that communicates “home” is that someone cares to clean and decorate so that others can be comfortable.
A lamp next to a chair with a plump pillow in the corner.
A stool at the kitchen counter so that a child can talk to us while we cook.
Fresh sheets on the bed.
A floor cleared of tripping hazards.
A clean bathroom.
A lovely scented soap.
Someone remembering that we were coming. A light left on.
Have you ever seen the movie, “The Giver”? There is a beautiful scene that becomes the pinnacle of the movie. Jonas, our hero, is a young man who grew up in a future highly controlled society where babies are born in institutions and then assigned a “family unit”. Everyone lives in a “dwelling”. He experiences a memory from the past world, a scene of sledding down a winter hill, winding through a canopy of tall pines, snowflakes falling softly. At the bottom, he sees a snug little house. A wreath is on the door, the roof is covered in snow. Inside there is a warm glow. We can see figures of people inside. They are together. It is then that we hear the music: voices lifted in song. Songs that tell of light, and hope, and of joy to the world. Jonas sees for the first time: a home.
Later, Jonas asks the Giver about the word “home”. The Giver tries to explain it to him. “So, a home is like a dwelling?” Jonas asks.
“No,” says the Giver, “A home is not a dwelling. A home is something more.”
In Norwegian there is a word that describes what we can’t properly call “homey” (not being a real word) but we try to describe with words like cozy or snug. They actually have the distinct word. It is “koselig” that captures the comfort and peace of being “at home”. In Dutch, the word is “gezelligheid”. In Danish, it is “hygge”.
Perhaps it is an essence of something, but when we see it, like Jonas, we recognize it. It is a small thing, or many small things, and yet, so is a mustard seed, and Christ said that even with faith as small as that we can move mountains.
Perhaps it is in its smallness, and seeming unimportance, that the home finds its greatness: a light to the world, a world that is dark and cold.
This blog is about making a house, not simply a place to eat and sleep, but into a home. Part of that is, of course, the stuff inside, the things we use to make others comfortable or to get our work done. But the bigger part, that must be there, is the something else.
So many blogs on home-keeping, children, organization, and home décor have a lot of labeled baskets, but I think miss the main point. If we focus on the main goal, I think that we can truly make our houses, not just beautiful or entertaining or cute for Pinterest, but truly into homes.
I certainly don’t have this all figured out. This blog is for me, as much as it is for you. At times I really fail! But, I also want to learn to do better. I hope that you do, too, and that we can travel this path together, creating a place of light for our families, and for all that we come across.
I hope that we can be friends. Your comments and suggestions are so helpful to me. I hope that a peek into my snug little home and my corner of the world is helpful to you, wherever you find yourself placed.
Please grab a mug (I don’t care if it is coffee, herbal tea, chai, hot cocoa, or chocolate chaud! They are all good!) and snuggle into a chair. This is where we begin.