Merry Christmas! There are a few days of Christmas left, and we’re still celebrating it up.
There are lots of reasons to celebrate. We have a house! Officially!
After several weeks and over a thousand miles going from host to host to host, we are unpacking boxes and settling in.
The most surprising aspect of our Advent journey is how little I did during our time between houses. How little I accomplished. How little I could manage. Without the burdens of regular housekeeping, I had more “free time” than I’ve had since college. Rather than start new habits (scrapbooking, a more robust prayer life, focused one-on-one time with the kids), I did a lot of staring into space. No blogging. Just staring.
I wish I was kidding. I’ve agreed before when people have said, “If it’s important, you’ll make time for it,” but December taught me how true it is. Priorities I had already…prioritized…were easy to continue. But when our life turned upside down temporarily, I did not learn to sew or start planning exciting hands-on learning opportunities. We just plodded on in vaguely the same direction we’ve always gone. I did read a couple books without pictures, so I can tout that as an accomplishment for what it’s worth. Plus I scoured all the back issues of Magnolia at our library.
We stayed in lovely, comfortable places with lovely, comfortable people. But it still took a lot of energy just to live without being completely irritating to our hosts. To make due with what could fit into our van (which was already pretty full with six people). We experienced only the tiniest bit of discomfort compared to actual homeless people, but even tiny struggles like not having fridge space offer insight into how hard it must be to homeless.
Now we’re experiencing a new set of growing pains, figuring out how to be in a new space. The kids have been overwhelmingly positive, with only a handful of “I miss the old house” comments. I still wrestle with whether or not we made the right decision, even though there’s no fruit to that thinking.
We had some help with moving, and although I know that it is impossible to earn a place in heaven, I’m pretty sure people who help others move get a primo spot. If we had to do it on our own, we’d probably still just be getting boxes out of storage. The way it is now, all of our stuff is on our property. Woot!
I consider myself a minimalist, and David is a useful-ist (if it’s useful, keep it). Unpacking means confronting a bunch of stuff I’d like to get rid of (how many logo-ed beer glasses does one need?) but need to keep for the sake of peace on Earth. We’ve found the toys, the kids clothes, the kitchen contents, and other important-but-not-pressing items like the flyswatter. (Not a lot of flies in below zero Iowa, thankfully.) But there’s also a lot of “need to keep” miscellany that needs to find a home other than boxes in my dining room. Slowly, slowly, stuff finds a home.
We hope to find some important items that remain hidden. I don’t have a smartphone, so my wall calendar is probably my most critical possession. I dutifully carted it from base to base all December in order to keep track of doctor appointments, birthdays, and deadlines. After three weeks of keeping meticulous track of the paper heart of our home, it is inexplicably gone.
We also haven’t found the hardware for the bunk bed, our cordless phone/answering machine, or the playdoh. These are all of equal importance, and we hope to find them soon. I wish I could trade the box with old backpacks (gotta keep! still useful!) and ball caps for the cordless phone. We did find our “emergency phone,” an old-school model that doesn’t require electricity. Although we are grateful for that phone from 1992 in all its curly-corded glory, it does make it difficult to talk on the phone for more than 2 minutes because multi-tasking can’t happen.
Someone asked what I like most about the new house that the old house didn’t have. At the time, we had only been in the new house for hours, and I didn’t have a good response. After thinking about it, and overcoming loyalty to the old house in order to honestly answer, I’d have to say the dining room.
We spend a lot of time around our table, doing school, drawing, fixing puzzles, and eating three meals a day. In our old house, it was getting a little tight. There’s a lot more space in this dining room. We even stuck a couch in the corner! But my favorite part of the room is the fire place. I’ve dreamed about having a mantle to decorate for years, thinking of all the breakable stuff I could display, safe from little fingers.
Plus, there’s something so cozy about a fireplace. Ours is gas, so for the sake of energy efficiency we probably won’t use it all that much. But we can still look at its coziness, even if there’s not a fire going. And the previous owner beautifully hand painted the tiles around the fireplace. Love!
Here’s what we’ve got going on the mantle for now:
The nativity set used to belong to David’s grandparents. My dad made the stable for us out of old scrap barn wood. The rosary came from a woman from church who was moving into assisted living and had a garage sale. The message board was a Christmas gift this year from my parents. The cross was a gift from my confirmation sponsor.
Once we get the furniture settled, then I can start putting things on the walls. For now we’ve got a “stick pictures where there are already nails” approach to decorating. Eventually I’ll get to grouping and balancing.
Oh! I can’t end my brain dump on moving until I talk about the squirrels. Or cats? Or Sasquatch? at the new house.
Last year we decided to start a tradition of pizza for Christmas. Here’s a shot from last year’s Christmas dinner.
The kids enjoyed the homemade pizza very much, and it was pretty painless as far as meal prep goes. With the upheaval this year we decided to get frozen pizzas and add a few things (spinach! fancy olives!) to jazz them up. Well– our new fridge is a side-by-side, so the pizzas wouldn’t fit the way they would have in our old freezer. So David set them out on our new back porch. This is a thing in his family, using the great outdoors as an additional freezer. I’m a proponent of temperature controlled food storage settings, but whatev. The temperature was -2 on Christmas, so I figured the pizzas would be safe.
I was wrong.
When David went to get the pizzas to throw in the oven for lunch, the top one had been goldilocks-ed. “Someone’s been eating our pizza!!!” David gave credit to the squirrels, but it could have been a cat or bird or something. We’ll never know, because Goldilocks got away.
No, I didn’t turn it into an investigative homeschool lesson. We just threw the pizza away without analyzing the bite marks or other evidence. The whole idea made me nauseous, so I let that educational opportunity pass. Mostly I just considered it a win that we threw away the pizza instead of cutting off the goldilocksed bit as certain other members of the household suggested.
Thanks for all your prayers as we waited (less-than-patiently) for our home. We are grateful to have spent Christmas semi-settled, even if we were down a pizza.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year!
(If you’re looking for deeper thoughts that don’t involve pizza, squirrels, or floral explosion couches,, I’m over at Everyday Ediths today talking about Epiphany.)