On August 25th last year, we bought our first house.
We weren’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into, but it’s been a good journey thus far. Even though it’s taken me a while to like this house, and the process of making it a home is a perpetual work-in-progress, it was the right choice for our family.
An older home is a challenge in terms of maintenance, but all newer homes will one day require the same amount of upkeep if not more depending on construction quality, so overall it’s not a bad hand to be dealt. Sure, we don’t have granite countertops or vinyl siding, but that’s okay. I used to think it wasn’t okay. That we needed to make our debut into the homeowners circle with a new home outfitted with “normal” modern amenities. However, I quickly discovered that my attitude was less than desirable and very selfish. In the end, it only served to hijack any attempt to be content with what God had provided. And contentment is the type of peace that doesn’t come from materialistic desires.
Anyway. Our home was built in 1956. It’s a post-war home, one of millions constructed during the mid-century modern years. One home restoration blog summed up the character of our house perfectly: mid-century modest. Our home is modest, not super flashy, and that’s okay. It isn’t the mainstream trend now, but it was in 1956. It was built with brick, which carried the imagery of settling down and planting roots.
This old house, formerly belonging to an elderly lady, is once again acquainted with the sound of little feet pattering through the hall, quiet giggles, and loud crying. The walls, already rich with their own stories of the past, have overheard numerous conversations: dreams, fears, plans, frustrations, excitement. There aren’t very many decorations, but one room has been painted in the hopes of reviving its atmosphere and bringing light into dark spaces. The wooden floors are old, creaky, and worn, but sturdy. They’ll do their job as long as we we take care of them. The windows act as portals to the outdoors, and despite their need of a good scrubbing, are happy to creak open and allow a breeze to waft through. The kitchen, built with solid knotty pine planks and cabinets, is a hub of activity: washing dishes, cooking, baking, and culinary experimentation. The living room, with its built in bookshelves, picture window, and good-sized fireplace, is perfect for winter mornings. Last Christmas, I spent a good deal of time curled up with a newborn next to the fireplace, and enjoyed watching my toddler explore his first Christmas snowfall.
What makes a house a home? Certainly not the things we decorate with, and most definitely not outward appearance. Instead, I’m discovering a home is made by the people who live in it. My lesson learned in our first year of homeownership, however simple, was so difficult to comprehend. Our house is where we live, but it’s with whom we live – that’s what counts. Does it matter if I have stainless steel appliances? Does it matter if my yard isn’t heavily landscaped? Not one bit. None of those things contribute to making a home. A house, yes, but not a home.
I’m learning to be content in my HOME. My lesson isn’t quite finished, so there’s plenty more to learn. If one year of homeownership is teaching me this much, then I wonder what the coming years have in store.