After living for 31 years in the home where we raised our children, my husband Dan and I moved into another house.
Dan had spent many hours working on our old house. Over the years he had remodeled, redecorated, reconstructed, rejuvenated, repaired, or replaced just about everything on the property.
We both worried that because he had invested so much time and work there, he would miss the place. I asked him if that was the case. (He was in the process of unloading cement blocks for a landscaping project in our “new” yard.)
He said, “No. I don’t really miss it. This is home now because home is . . . well, where you fix things.”
That phrase will probably not catch on as other “Home is where” statements have in the past: Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where your heart is. Home is where you go and they have to take you in. Nonetheless, in more ways than one, home is where you fix things.
Every homeowner knows that maintaining a house is a never-ending job. There is always something to do. Shingles blow off, shrubs take over house fronts, driveways crack, fences sag, and electrical wiring gets old and dangerous.
At any point in time, the responsible homeowner is finishing one project, working on two others, and planning at least one more. He or she knows that a neglected home deteriorates quickly.
Home is also where family relationships are mended. Hurt feelings are soothed and healed. Bad attitudes are adjusted. Broken hearts are patched up.
In a well-maintained home, principles such as respectability and integrity are kept in working order. Common courtesies are established. Good habits are not allowed to get rusty, and trash is quickly identified and removed, not only from the floor but also from the television or computer screen.
On a shelf in my kitchen sits a plaque that reads Home is where our story begins. The quality of that first home sets the course of a person’s life. It is where we learn who we are, what our purpose is, and upon what foundation we want to build.
Our society as a whole is in desperate need of repair. In fact, our world is so sick and out-of-kilter that we may feel powerless to make a difference. The damage, we believe, is too widespread.
But much of what is broken in our world must be repaired and then maintained, not on the large scale, but in individual homes. Every young person who burns buildings and hurls bricks at police officers; every bully on every school bus; every drug peddler; and every terrorist grew up somewhere, probably in a home that was poorly maintained.
Homes in which love does not prevail, where adequate teaching and training are neglected, where feelings are routinely stepped on, and where minor tiffs are allowed to become ugly feuds are homes inhabited by broken people.
The most needed repairs in any home probably require not the use of tools, but the use of words.