Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | December 23, 2008

Home for the holidays

Aiming to take advantage of falling real estate prices to purchase a house with a view and a little more room between us and our neighbors, my husband and I put our home on the market late this summer. We signed a contract to sell our house just before Lehman Brothers failed and bought a replacement in the Morgan Hill foothills shortly thereafter.

The economic news kept getting grimmer throughout the home-selling and home-buying process, so much so that I lost track of which meltdown milestone followed our decisions.

We moved over Thanksgiving week, and for the first time in several years, I didn’t host our family’s Thanksgiving meal. The fact that I didn’t prepare the turkey and trimmings in my kitchen was one sign of many that our lovely new house was not yet home. In fact, as we left my mother’s home after Thanksgiving dinner, my husband flicked on his turn signal in preparation for turning right toward our old home before realizing that he needed to go straight to get to our new house. Lots of other realities reinforced that “not yet home” feeling:

• Stacks of boxes filled with items waiting to be assigned a home within our new house

• Piles of flattened boxes waiting for a freecycler pickup or a trip to the recycling center down the hill

• Artwork leaning in masses against walls waiting for someone to find the time, energy and inspiration to hang them

• Discoveries of previously unnoticed light switches, drawers (we all thought that drawer beneath the cooktop was a dummy drawer), and dog escape routes from the fully fenced back yard

• Uncharacteristic willingness to eat fast food, frozen dinners and similar meals that require, at most, minimal cooking skills and effort

Don’t get me wrong, our family loves our new house. But it was clearly not yet home.

During my childhood, my family moved every couple of years. But I didn’t realize how thoroughly I’d fallen out of moving practice. I shouldn’t have been surprised; we’d been in our last house for more than 12 years. In that time, I’d forgotten how much work, stress and readjusting moving requires. And I’d forgotten that it takes a while for a new house to feel like home, no matter how much you love the new place.

If it weren’t for the interference of life’s little necessities — school, work, volunteer commitments — we could have focused full-time on settling into our new house and making it feel like home. But that’s a luxury few can afford. So, over the last month, we’ve gradually been acclimating ourselves to our new house and turning it into a home.

The number of unpacked boxes has dwindled significantly. They’re confined largely to the garage and I’m hopeful that over the holiday break, we’ll be able to make enough progress that we can use it to park cars for the first time since we moved.

The piles of flattened boxes are gone, most to a couple of people who use Morgan Hill Freecycle. The rest were transported to a local recycling center.

Some of our artwork is actually hanging on our walls. Several other pieces — instead of being huddled together in masses — are leaning below the spot where they’ll eventually be hung when schedules allow.

We haven’t made any discoveries about previously unknown features in a while, and the dog can no longer escape — knock on the railroad ties that now line the base of the back fence where the hillside doesn’t meet it perfectly — from the back yard.

Perhaps most significantly, we’re cooking again. Christmas cookies, coffeecake, cupcakes, buttermilk yeast bread, cream of onion soup, potato soup, garlic green beans, Provençal chicken and other family favorites have been created using our formerly unfamiliar new appliances. Somehow, there’s nothing like food to turn a house into a home. And I’ll be preparing my family’s Christmas meal.

I’m already starting to design in my head a plan for our completely unlandscaped back yard that, if the economy permits, I hope to implement this spring. A garden featuring herbs, vegetables, citrus trees and favorite flowering specimens will be the final step required for my gardener’s soul to turn this house into a home.

I hope this holiday season finds you surrounded with comforting traditions and beloved friends and family and in a place that feels like home.



  1. […] the holiday break, I’m enjoying bit of time to explore my new garden. It plays host to a great number of what I assume are some variety of blue jay, but I’ve been […]

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