My husband loved Christmas. He wouldn’t always show much interest in the yearly Christmas card and letter, the baking, the decorating, or the lists I kept to keep everyone organized and everything fair. But a few days before the actual day, Dean went full force. He would go out shopping, alone, without a list, and without a budget. He would buy presents for our sons, his mother, and for me, disregarding the wrapped gifts already under the tree. It was irritating, but I was always impressed on Christmas Eve with his spot-on ideas. He had a knack for selecting the most wonderful presents, ones we didn’t even know we wanted. The joy on everyone’s faces, especially on his, outweighed any frustration I felt with his buying habits. As wonderful as his gift giving was, he was equally elusive of giving ideas of what we should get for him. Who hasn’t been frustrated with the statement, “Oh, I don’t need anything” when you want so desperately to get just the right gift? Well, Christmas 2008, I thought I had finally gotten it right. We enjoyed watching the TV show “Top Chef” together and that year they came out with their first “Top Chef Cookbook”. My husband loved to cook and I thought – finally, the perfect gift! I hunted all over for that darn book, but they were sold out everywhere I looked. I settled for something similar and hoped for the best. Christmas Eve came and we opened our gifts. Although he liked the cookbook, I could tell I missed the mark again. When my turn came, he was grinning like a fool. I unwrapped the cookbook I had searched and searched for. He had outdone me again. Actually, I think that was my gift to him – the joy of beating me to the punch. I flipped through the book, rolled my eyes and smiled and shook my head at being bested yet again. I thanked him with resignation in my voice. That was the last Christmas we had with him. He passed away the following September. The first Christmas without him was tough, but we got through it. In the quiet of the days that followed, I having a bit of a rough time, missing him terribly. I pulled out that cookbook for the first time all year and found something I had overlooked the first time I flipped through the book. He had written in the front cover – “To Amy, Merry Christmas, I love you! Dean”. He had given the perfect, thoughtful gift once again.
My dad was a house flipper way before there was HGTV, or even remote controls!! Bless my mom because she was the manual labor in their relationship, and she always fixed up the houses. One time Mom had to stay in the hospital for 2 nights so dad put a sign in the yard and sold the house. She was mad for several years!
When we were kids, it was tough moving 1 or 2x per year because we were always changing schools. Now I understand that they moved around because that is how they made money and a house was an asset, not a home. I can’t imagine how tough it was to make a living in the 1970’s when folks talk about 15% interest rates on home loans.
As adults, both my brother and I and our families have each owned a total of 3 homes. Our houses aren’t investments but homes for us to raise our families, relax & laugh with friends or just a place that we can find peace from the world outside.
When propane hit $5 per gallon, Rich and I decided it was time to insulate the walls of our 1910 home. As we looked around the house we saw a lifetime of memories. In the kitchen, we have that dang 1970’s obnoxious orange sink that Lucie and Dean would always clean their fish in. Around the island, my classmates have celebrated numerous reunions and Sherm Benson even did tequila shots at our 5 year reunion. There are a lot of folks with pictures of their kids on our couch! Whether it was Girl Scouts, Birthday Parties, Prom, Halloween, Lucie’s Memorial or Lexie’s graduation, it really made me sad to think we were ripping out the walls that housed the laughter and tears of those treasured times.
AND then that Stevie Nicks song Landslide came on the radio and I seriously started to cry because it is the story of our lives.
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too
Oh I’m getting older too
We have definitely over improved the house and I know that we will never get our money out of it. Luckily this is our home and not one of our investments so we take a deep breath and think about the future memories and celebrations that we will have in our “new” home.
If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and take a peak!