Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The House That Gives Life

Recently, the house in the photo above, was sold and a new family moved in.  So what?  Well, this house was the Smith Family home for many years.  When it was first built, it was one of the only houses in the area.  Now, it is but one among many in a densely populated subdivision.

For years, this house was the center of life for the Smiths.  The family gathered each year to celebrate Christmas, the favorite family holiday.  Packages nearly dwarfed the Christmas tree placed strategically in the center of the bay window for all to see and enjoy.  Peals of laughter and excitement could always be heard those Christmas Eve Nights as adults and children alike gathered together to welcome the Christ Child.  The next day, the aroma of a freshly baked turkey nearly the size of the kitchen itself permeated the house.  The warmth of a crackling fire in the fireplace punctuated the air, adding to the warm feeling of the season.

Birthdays and anniversaries were noted and celebrated within these walls as well.  No one was ever forgotten.  All were welcome as the family's matriarch and patriarch looked on in joy and contentment at their growing family.  They converted this house into a home and it was to this place that all would eventually come at one time or another throughout the year just to be "home."

But time passes and things change.  Children grow up and become adults.  Grandchildren are added to the joy and celebrations become larger and larger.  Soon, great-grandchildren make an appearance and the joy of new life makes the home feel indescribably warm.

Here, within these four walls, the Smiths gave life.  The house provided shelter but soon became a part of the family, always drawing those who call themselves Smith back to within its walls.

Years passed and the parents aged along with everyone else.  Along with age, sadly, can come infirmity and the first signs that life is not endless.  Six years ago, in the spring of 2005, the family matriarch left this world suddenly and unexpectedly.  Yet another family gathering, this one far more somber than any other in its history, took place.  But even in this gathering there were remembrances of life and joy.

More time passed and on an early spring morning in 2010, the patriarch of the Smith Family passed.  The house that had become a home, the home that had become a part of the family, now stood empty.

Much work was needed to clear out several decades of living.  Once the material goods of a life well lived had been removed, the family home went on the market.  But there was no quick sale here!  Finally, after a little over 18 months, the family home was sold.

There was a certain amount of relief when the sale was completed.  It represented a closure of sorts, a time for the family to move on with only memories and a myriad of pictures to accompany them.  But there is also a great deal of sadness in this event.  This home, filled with love and life, is no longer a part of the family.  A new family now occupies its walls and the only walks through its hallways, living room, bedrooms, and family room is in the mind.  And while this is a treasure, it can never match the sheer joy of just being there.

But the story does not end here.  This house, built several decades ago, housed a family full of life, love, energy, and non-stop fun.  It provided shelter to all who entered it.  It endured Midwestern seasonal changes as though it was proudly protecting its occupants living safely and securely inside.

Now the house enters a new chapter.  A new family resides within its walls.  New pictures have been hung.  Perhaps a fire, the first in many years, has been lit in the hearth.  The comings and goings of every day life now provide a new rhythm to its existence and it is once again filled with life.  And that is what this existence is all about.  Life has its changes.  They are inevitable.  Some are good.  Some not so good.  But all represent an evolution of life, a chance to grow and change based upon what has happened in the past.

Another family has celebrated its first Christmas in their new home.  New traditions have begun within its walls and somewhere deep in our hearts we yearn to go back just one more time for a stroll through the living room, to climb the stairs to the bedrooms, or even take a chance at the basement!  But we will never take that stroll because life has changed, has moved on.  And while there is an emptiness of sorts because the house is gone, we will forever remember the laughter, the joy, the sheer pace of life for when this was home.  May those who not occupy it find the same comfort that this old friend brought us for so many years!