Edgar Guest was one of Nana's favorite poets. He wrote many, many poems about living. Sometimes when I'd visit her, she'd recite a Guest poem. One that stuck with me is Home. The first line reads, "It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home. "
What is home? How important is the concept and action of home to a family? How does one create home? I remember once when my children were very young and I was frustrated, I read a magazine article about home. The article emphasized the importance of the everyday actions of cooking, family meals, and organization. The article even emphasized the important impact that smells such as fresh baked cookies, breads, dinners had on a happy home. Old fashioned perhaps, but I remember trying out that author's ideas and noticing a difference.
Those ideas occurred to me again recently. After a few very busy weeks of work, I noticed my family was a bit out of sorts. I hadn't been available. The meals weren't as good. The routine shattered. Then this week we returned to a quieter, more focused family pattern -- healthy meals, time to talk, plenty of rest, expectations met and everyone is happier.
Again, what is home and how do we create it? Home can be as simple as a two-room apartment and as complex as a family compound. What's important is that it's a place where you can put your feet up, feel like you belong, and have the chance to relax and be yourself. Home should be a place where there's peace for you -- a place where you're important and your needs are met. At home, you are not served or the servant, but instead a full member of that family community - a contributor and a receiver.
The colors, objects and organization of a home are decided by its owners. It seems like homes that are organized in some, efficient way work better. Cleanliness and order keep everyone safe and allows people to relax and pursue their interests. There are so many objects on the market today that clutter and confuse a home -- unnecessary fare. And there are other objects that make a home cozy and comfortable such as a sturdy bed, welcoming chairs, dinner tables with room for all and rugs to sprawl out on.
Some will read this and say that's so obvious -- everyone knows what home is. But others, in this complex, varied society we live in, may see it as a new concept to consider. Our world moves very fast and it seems like home sometimes gets left behind.
What's your concept of home? How do you create home for your family? What's most important in your home? Take a look at Guest's poem below. Apply it to the 21st century - what meaning does it have for you?
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind,
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind.
It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round everything.
Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it;
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men;
And gradjerly as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn't part
With anything they ever used—they've grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb-marks on the door.
Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit an' sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled, an' leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an'when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified;
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories
O' her that was an' is no more—ye can't escape from these.
Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day;
Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em jes t' run
The way they do, so's they would get the early mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome:
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home.
from Collected Verse of Edgar Guest
NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, pg. 12