Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home for the holidays

Many years ago, in the last millennium, when I was a youngster, Perry Como had a hit song titled "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays." At this time of year, I think we all want to be "home," whatever that means to each of us. My feelings about home and Christmas have changed over the years. Until I reached high school, Christmas was pretty much my Mom and Dad and my sisters and my dog and a decorated tree with presents under it and reindeer on the roof and Santa down the chimney and stockings hung with care. As I got older, before I started getting wiser, home became less central to Christmas. There were girlfriends and their families and, as soon as I was old enough to have my license, driving around to visit friends and see the Christmas lights and... Home became someplace not to be, but to be away from, especially from the overseeing eyes of adults.

Christmas candles in a Marine on St. Croix home
classic Christmas candles in a Marine on St. Croix home
Photo by J. Harrington

My understanding of what home means was very limited in those days. My vision of what home could mean even more so. Fortunately, from about the time I was in the fourth grade until I graduated from the eighth grade, my family lived in a wonderful old Victorian house in one of Boston's southern suburbs. It was about a half mile walk, bike ride or drive to the central business district, train station, movie theater, churches and school that I attended. The town harbor, which ultimately opened onto the Atlantic ocean, has another half mile from the town center (our "village"). That house, our home in it, and the relative nearness of the harbor, shaped much of my life and were, collectively, some of the nicest presents my parents ever gave me, although, like most kids, I was too young and dumb and to know just how lucky I was at the time.

the backyard view through the glass of our new window
Photo by J. Harrington

All of this is leading up to a suggestion that you consider getting a special book as a Christmas present for someone, including your very own self, that cares about what home and family means. I'm starting to read it again and to realize just how wonderful it is. The book in question is -- The Heart is All That Is: Reflections on Home. Think about the times you've read here about local foods and a local economy and sustainable living and restorable development. I hope you didn't think that those ideas are worth following just for their own sake. Well, they are but they're worth a lot more when used to make a better home for all of us. Speaking of making a better home, the picture at the start of this paragraph was taken through the nice clear glass of our new window looking out at the back yard pear tree where the deer feed and the lilac bush to the right where they better not. May your home this Christmas be as warm and full of love as ours and with a view you enjoy as much as we do ours.

Windows

By Rachel Sherwood 

From this height
the sunset spans the whole world
before me: houses and trees are shadows
neon flares between them like sudden fire
the freeways run, always
strangely vacant with riderless cars
empty air

the windows up here
refract the blue slate and rose light
making the hills on the horizon collide
with ideas of Sussex, piedmont
or the cold clear wind of the Abruzzi
but that is never what is out there.

At home, the lamp curls its aurora
into the corners of the room
and out the windows
squares, rectangles of light
stake out a territory on the ragged lawn.

In the center of things
between the pressing of the window and air
— a small space —
there is a meeting that defines
nothing, everything.

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