To me, homes, more than any other physical thing, carry such emotion – especially during the holidays. I was humming I’ll Be Home for Christmas just this morning as I wrapped the final presents by the soft glow of the white lights sparkling from our tree. It got me to think about every Christmas memory wrapped up like shiny paper within the walls of a home.
Every year, old Christmas memories bubble up. I remember the settings: the many Christmases at my grandparents’ homes; stringing popcorn and cranberries with my mom in front of our crackling fireplace; singing our family prayer around the Christmas table full of good German food with Pfeffernüsse cookies wrapped in bags for dessert.
I remember the many Christmases since my husband and I started our own lives together: our first Christmas in a tiny, single-wide trailer in Hindsville, AR surrounded by wheat fields; the first Christmas in a home where we had signed our names to a mortgage; our first place in Florida where I had to struggle to remember it was winter when surrounded by palm trees and warm ocean breezes.
I remember the hard Christmases too: a Christmas we spent on a tiny island in the Caribbean when we were too poor to buy a tree, or a ticket home; the Christmases where our careers and health were broken; the Christmas where we lost our dog unexpectedly only a few weeks before the holidays, when we took his stocking down in tears.
In every memory, I remember every detail in the house, where the furniture was placed and the exact spot where that tree was set up. Since we’ve moved over 13 times since our marriage in 2002, that’s saying a lot!
All those Christmas memories are enclosed in the brick, stucco, shingles, drywall, paint and beams of a house.
I remember the first few times we moved from our rental homes, I would tear up as we heard the lock click and walked away for the last time. I did the same thing when we sold our home in Arkansas to move to Florida, and when we sold our home in Florida to move to the Caribbean. I cried for the loss of that backdrop, for no longer having a tangible link to hold onto those memories.
My emotional fortitude has grown a bit with each move. I no longer cry when we leave a house, but I still feel the loss.
Every place we’ve lived holds a tiny piece of my heart. That’s what homes do, they become the time capsules for pieces of a life lived… and hopefully lived well. They are the backdrop that holds our memories in place. No matter how much we move, I will always feel pain as we close the door on that portion of our lives.
Recently, we decided to encroach our business upon the sacred ground of homes. We will take broken homes and breathe new life into them through renovation. We will provide creative solutions so more people could own homes to grow in. We will have a small part to play in people’s backdrops changing for the better. We have big dreams of future growth and revitalization of communities.
As investors, we are taught to remove emotion from the buying process. We know that feeling too much often muddies the waters of reason. To be able to make logical decisions and mitigate risk, we need to see numbers and not names on the mailbox.
They are not homes. They become properties. We change the language to distance ourselves further. Like doctors who wall off their hearts in order to think clearer in the operating room, we pick up the hammer to heal.
That’s good advice. I struggle every day to turn off emotion for investment decisions. However, I never forget that even if I can distance the emotion, I am still dealing with halls that echo of children’s laughter, walls that show the growth of toddlers to teens and nail notches over doors that once held mistletoe.
Just like people, every house has its own story. You can feel it when you step inside the door: the joy, the pain, the success, the failure, the laughter and the tears.
We are not dealing only with brick and mortar. We are dealing with memory. We are dealing with the history of daily lives full of coffee pots brewing, children’s bedtime stories, sock slide contests on wood floors, and tender goodnight kisses. This frame has held heartbeats, given life and brought hope. It deserves respect.
While the numbers win out over emotion on buying decisions, as soon as it’s over, I let my heart flood right back in to discover the wonder and awe of our work.
While houses may provide the ambiance of Christmas, they don’t become homes until the right voices fill them.
No matter where you live this Christmas, enjoy the sacred settings and scenery of this part of your story. After spending many Christmas’ in many homes, I can safely say that as long as the right loved ones surround you, no matter the location, you will always be home for Christmas.