I was going to write a definitive piece about Black Friday and the holiday shopping insanity, but I found myself chasing another butterfly this morning. Several other bloggers have already done a fine job. Besides, being Jewish, I tend to just stay out of the malls in December, preferring instead to hide under my bed until mid-January, when the returns and post-holiday sales have passed. I am also guessing that someone willing to pepper spray other shoppers probably doesn’t read this blog.
I’ve never liked to shop. I get overwhelmed when I go into stores. If I can buy something that I need online, more the better. And this month I am in the midst of one of the most stress-inducing forms of shopping known to man: house buying.
We have found, and fallen in love with, a house in our new home town. The size is right, the layout is perfect, and it offers drop-dead gorgeous views of water in two directions. Sitting in it, we watch ships go by. Clouds shift and change by the minute. For two people who work from home, having a view is a major plus. Right now hubby works in a sun room that overlooks my garden, and he likes to watch the squirrels, butterflies, bees, and birds flitting around. We eat breakfast and lunch in this room, and we never tire of nature’s exuberance that is always on display.
While I can’t pretend to speak for all women (I hate to shop, after all), I guess that many of us want our nest to be just right. Home is our sanctuary, a place where we can create happy memories to echo beyond our generation into the future. In our homes, we create traditions, we kiss hurts, we laugh, we cry, we sing, and sometimes we do all of that in a ten-minute period! We hang photographs of smiling faces and dream of grandchildren. I love having my own home, painting it with colors I like, and not having to worry about doing something that displeases the landlord. Home is where the heart is, indeed.
Unless, of course, you’re buying a house. After the initial thrill of seeing it for the first time, we have to start kicking its tires. We review and inspect. We mentally arrange our furniture in the rooms while critically eyeing the slope of a floor. We balance our longing for the future life we’ve already imagined with the cold reality of whether or not the repairs are worth the cost.
I’ve always loved old homes, and this is my blessing and curse. Old homes have character and stories in their walls. In the home I live in now, I felt from the time I first stepped into it that it had been a happy one. A young family moved into it, and the children grew up and left home. After years of marriage, the husband succumbed to cancer, and his widow sold it to us, passing along more than 40 years of history to us. I still feel this family in the walls of the house, as though their joy left a permanent imprint.
Yet an old home must have “good bones.” Inspections have revealed some issues with the “new” house that look more like osteoporosis to me. We are hoping for the best, but this morning I knew when I woke that my head must balance my heart. My business sense kicked in, and I made requests to our realtor that may break the deal. It felt right, and I felt empowered. In my younger days, I often let love talk me into bad decisions, and I am grateful not to do that anymore. Self-love and self-respect have replaced need, and I knew that I could let the house go, if that is what is best. Thank God these gray hairs are good for something!
If the deal does fall through, the part of me that already imagined living there will hurt — but I have been around long enough to know that if this one doesn’t work, we will find another. At worst, we will rent a home for a while until we find one that works. In the meantime, though, we will have each other, our family photos, our memories, and our dreams…and that is home enough.
As I read this, maybe it’s more about holiday shopping than I realized. We can apply the same principles: are we willing to compromise our values to get a certain item for a certain price? Do we operate from need or self-respect? Are we willing to walk away from a purchase if that’s the right thing to do, regardless of what emotional attachment we may have? And finally, what is truly important to us? Is it a “thing” that creates the joy in our lives, or is it the experience of being together, of loving each other, wherever that is, that matters?