December 13, 2006

Open Houses Can Open Eyes

Practically every community has one. You know, the affluent neighborhood where the wealthiest of people live. Our town is no different. If you were to mention this particular neighborhood everybody in town would know it. At Christmas time I like to drive through this particular neighborhood because their outside decorations are breathtakingly beautiful.

Our local woman's club sponsors a Christmas Open House every year with the proceeds from the tour going to a worthy cause. You are provided a map and you go and visit six different homes that are on the tour. As it so happens this year, many of the homes were in this particular neighborhood that I spoke of. I was eagerly anticipating the event and with map in hand, off my friend and I went.

Have you ever been so absolutely amazed at something that you literally almost have to pick your jaw up off the ground??? Well, that's exactly how I felt when I entered these homes. Every inch of these homes were filled with designer items. There was so much "stuff" to look at in each you room you would almost have to spend an hour just letting your eyes take it all in. Every nook and cranny was filled with very expensive and elaborate Christmas decor. Each room proudly displayed it's own themed Christmas tree and there was a themed wreath hanging on each inside door. The bathrooms were absolutely pristine and the kitchens would proudly accommodate the most talented of chefs. The bedrooms had the huge, really tall beds that look like one would need a pole vault to get into at night. There were so many elegant pillows on the bed that by the time one would have all the pillows off of the bed it would be time to wake up! Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying there is anything wrong with this. I'm sure these people worked very hard to accumulate all this "stuff." What I CAN tell you that "stuff" DOES NOT MAKE A HOUSE A HOME.

Within those walls of these homes are some very unhappy people. My friend's son has a best friend that lives in one of these houses. He is one of the most unhappiest children my friend has ever known. Her son does not like to visit this particular home because the Mother is yelling constantly at the children not to "mess this up," or "you can't go in this room," "go and play at so and so's house," etc. . . Her son feels so uncomfortable at this house he is almost afraid to breathe for fear of getting in trouble. Do you know where they spend time?? You guessed it. At my friend's home. Her house is modest in comparison to the other house but it is a warm and cozy environment that says "home" as soon as you enter the door.

Some of these home owners have been married three and four times. They stay married until they decide they are "tired" of their spouse and want to "move on" to a younger, more prettier spouse. These houses are filled with children from many different marriages, different Moms, different Dad's, different lives.

The homeowners both work full time jobs so they are not there when there children get home from school. One thing that really struck me was the fact that there were huge OPEN bars in many of these houses. Alcohol would be readily available to these children and consumption would be very easy because there would be no parental control. These parents also worked very long hours so they were never home. They were working so hard to live in a house that they really couldn't LIVE in. It doesn't make sense, does it? When you drive by these homes in the day you never see anybody there because they are at work trying to pay the massive mortgages. There is no one to greet these children when they come home from school, no one to ask them how was their day, no cookies and milk and a nice chat, no help with homework, and no supervision. Well, I take that back. The maid is there but I don't really think that she can take the place of Mom and Dad. I bet if given the chance these children would trade places with my friend's son in a second. Sure, they would be living in a smaller, more modest home but what they would be GAINING is something that you simply CANNOT put a price on.

Coveting is a sin but I think it is a very human emotion and one that we all struggle with from time to time. I will that admit when I was touring these homes I thought to myself how nice it would be to have designer this and designer that but then I changed my mind. I wouldn't want to live in a "showplace" where my children would be afraid to breathe or live in a house where there is no love and sense of family. I WANT my children's friends to always feel welcome in our home. When I came home from the tour I breathed a sigh of relief and entered my home with a new set of eyes and a most grateful heart. Sure, our house could use some new paint, new carpet, etc. . . . you get the picture. But you know what? To me, my house is a palace. It is a safe and happy haven from this world. It is a place when you enter you feel loved and welcomed. It is filled with laughter and joy. It is HOME. It is the only place on this earth that I want to be!


Anonymous said...

A rousing round of applause! I agree wholeheartedly. There's nothing wrong with a beautiful home, but it shouldn't be the altar at which a family worships.

Kelli said...

More applause here!! What an excellent post. I know just what you mean. We have a very similar neighborhood near us, this one has many large porches, some of them wrap around! I like to drive around in the springtime and I never see anyone out enjoying their porch. Very sad.


Anonymous said...

Amen to this post! Wonderful observations and SOO true!
Jennifer R.

Anonymous said...

An excellent post! I find that home magazines make me feel the same, seeing beautiful homes and wanting what I see. This makes for a discontent heart so I've cut out all magazines except for a few that I truly enjoying reading.

Thanks for the reminder that I should be content with what God has blessed me with.

clarice said...

I too want a beautiful home. I remember in CA going the most amazing homes. But nothing makes anything more beautiful as love. A home starts with love. Clarice

Anonymous said...

wonderful post! We have a "tour of homes" in our area too and it is always with the old historic homes which are very is easy to get side tracked in those lovely homes with Christmas trees in every room however if you know the people they will tell you where all the drafts

On another note: you posted a recipe that I would like to do with my little ones. It is the christmas ornaments with cinnamon. My question: approx is that the ingredience for one ornament or several? ....also your gingerbread man is adorable and when I clicked on the picture it looked like he had a recipe on him...very neat

Susan P. said...

annonymous, you will love making the cinnamon ornaments with your little ones. I used regular sized cookie cookies and the recipe made a LOT of ornaments, I'm happy to say! Have fun:)

Terri said...

I agree with everyone else, Susan. An excellent post!

Mrs. Monise said...

What a great post! We have homes like that in our neighborhood also but like you said most of us do. What you said is very true, I think children would prefer having time with their parents then having things from their parents. I think that some parents over compensate in making sure their children have the latest and greatest or the biggest and best because they feel guilty inside, they know and maybe they wish that they could be there for their children but the high mortgage payments and to the max credit cards say otherwise. Great Post and I'm rambling (sorry).