Where We Love is Home

My favorite types of homes are those that tell a story. Perhaps that is why I prefer older homes to newer and my favorite way to decorate can pretty much be summed up by put everything on the walls! Home is somewhat of a unique concept for our family. Our eight-year-old son has lived in eight different houses over the years and our four-year-old daughter has lived in four. I may not remember the full addresses of all the houses that Clay and I have shared but all of them have been called home at some point or another. Home is where the heart is…all those needlepoints can’t be wrong, can they?

Recently, I came across an Instagram account that highlighted her neutral-toned Christmas decor – complete with a white Christmas tree and beige ribbon. Another account featured a tree with all new ornaments purchased this year in order to fit with the rustic cabin theme in their suburban home. More power to them. Many find such decor aspirational. But looking at such images just bums me out, which is probably why I’m not an interior designer.

Give me color. Give me kitschy. Give me handmade. Give me history. Give me a story. And most of all, give me love. Our Christmas decor features items collected over our thirteen years of marriage from a variety of locales. We don’t have matching family stockings because I don’t dare replace the stockings I bought for Clay and me in our first year of marriage. Artwork done by the kids is taped on the closet door. And is it really Christmas without at least one paper chain countdown?

Our tree is filled with ornaments from the various places we’ve called home and traveled to over the years. This year, we let the kids put the ornaments on the tree so there are bare spots and it is pretty far from magazine-worthy but it is our tree. And for that reason alone, it is the most beautiful tree in the world in our eyes.

Christmas cards we received are promptly taped on the door. I love how the cards serve as a visual reminder that we’re not alone every time we leave the house.

When my grandmother passed away earlier this year, my dad and aunts ensured that her ceramic Christmas tree ended up in my home. Her mother (my great-grandmother) made them for all the women in the family in the early 1980’s and I’m thankful I am able to now display one in our home. I found the plaid runner in a North Carolina thrift store years ago and no vintage corner is complete without tacky lights around the banister.

On our kitchen table is an advent yule log we made together at church. The bay window holds some of our less-kitschy items but let’s be honest – there is nothing of value on display. If you’re looking for super classy Christmas decoration inspiration, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Our home is full of mismatched furniture, items collected from around the world, and things from Target – lots and lots from Target.

Only time will tell if this will be our only Christmas in this house we are currently calling our home. Our children may not have a childhood spent in one particular house but they will always have a home. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. stated that “Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” We have loved in many places over the years and we have learned that a house is simply that – a house. Flashy appliances, expensive countertops, large bathrooms, two-car garages do not a home make. Home is us. Home is anywhere. Right now, home is a house in northern Virginia built in 1966 with basement laundry, a car port, and mirrored closet doors. And during this 2017 Christmas season, we couldn’t ask for a better place to love.

A Little More Seasoned

Eight years ago today, the little guy entered our world. On the surface Clay and I were ready. We had been married for five years, we had been parents to our dog for almost as long, and we had gone through quite a number of difficult experiences unique to military life. We were seasoned. And like so many before us, we were woefully underprepared for the adventure known as parenthood.

No amount of decorating a nursery or buying diapers in bulk prepares you for the wave of responsibility, fear, and love that overwhelms you the first time you hold your baby in your arms. In the moments after the little guy was born, I was so happy (and not just because it was an easy labor), but only a few pictures exist that showcase a beaming smile on my part. Most of the pictures look similar to the one above – me staring at him with love, confusion, and apprehension.

Clay deployed shortly after Weston’s birth so for the first year of the little guy’s life, it was just me and him. We learned together. It was hard. But we survived. When Clay returned from Afghanistan, the little guy walked up to him at the airport and squealed. Despite the fact that our first year as parents was defined war and separation, we felt seasoned – or at least we felt a little bit more prepared as we ventured into new territory.

We eventually added a little girl to the mix and now here we are – eight years later – feeling like we have the hang of this whole parenting thing. Most days, at least. But a lot sure has changed since our son was first placed into my arms.

So happy birthday to my favorite little guy. Unfortunately, the Army took Clay away again but Weston is resilient. He understands. And that is one of his many amazing qualities. He will forever be our first baby and even though we feel more confident than we did eight years ago, we will continue to go into uncharted territory together. We’re still scared. But at least we’re a little more seasoned.