Home Is What You Make It!

Frost lined the windows that cold winter day. The morning sun sent its bright rays through the door. The ice crystals made rainbow prisms across the wallpaper. The children had etched their names deeply into the windows icy surface. Cold, crisp air made me catch my breath as I opened the doors into the front hall from the dining room. I had quickly ran up to my bedroom to find a change of clothes before the cold would make me scramble back down the stairs and back into the room with the only warmth in the whole house. An unfortunate string of events in our lives had made our home situation then a bit unusual. We were, for a need to keep warm, sequestered in an area that consisted of our dining room and kitchen. A “rent to own” stove provided our heat as long as the company didn’t show up to take it back for non-payment. A couch and chairs had traded places with our table. It was a close fit for an adult and four children. But my children and I had made our nest as cozy as possible to suit our needs.In our crowded corner of the world we added heaps of blankets and quilts for bedding. Lamps had cast their soft light to all the corners of the room and movies had played on the VCR. My hands had busied themselves with cross-stitch, and in the forced small confines I had found time to really listen to my children as they told me the happenings of their day. Puzzles were made, and games were played. It had been one of the hardest, most worrisome times of my life. I had been entrusted with the care of these four beautiful children and I had put us in this harsh situation. Guilt and remorse is hard to hide from those you love the most. But in a different way, I remember that time as a very special time. It was a time of laughter and a special closeness to my children. It had been a gift to learn from.Over the years, I had landed my children in many different places. Actually there had been over twenty different homes, some nice and some not so nice. It had been unusual for my family to celebrate Christmas in a house more than once. I used to joke that I never had to spring clean…I just moved. However, it was not funny how many times my children were forced through no choice of their own, to leave friends behind or adjust to another new school and teachers. My life choices may have caused many hardships, but I tried my best to make our landing pad as homey as possible. Paint and wallpaper could work miracles regardless of how many locks were on the door. Flowers by the front door and curtains sewn on my old sewing machine always added a cheery note. Luckily, I had a mother that had shown me how to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, even if the old proverb says that isn’t possible.When my children join me for the holidays at home, it is always the same place now. Regardless of the ups and downs of our family life, I had hoped I had bestowed the belief that no matter what the circumstances are in my children’s lives, with creativity and love they can always make things better and find joy. As adults, they have all shown me that they have learned that lesson well.

Originally published in Bottom Line News & Views, July 2018

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