Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Little House

"The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening. Day followed day, each one a little different from the one before...but the Little House stayed just the same."
~Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House

This was one of my favorite books growing up. I loved that the main character is the house. This book is "her story," it even says it on the cover under the little red house. I loved the personification of the house, that she watched the sun and the moon. That she was surprised, frightened and curious throughout the book. I always felt that the house had a heart and soul and was looking out for the family that lived within her.

This week, I've been busy cleaning and organizing my own house. I always seem to get this craving to have things in order this time of year...the weeks right before the new school year begins. After cleaning the basement for days, I came across this book and thought about my mom's house. My mom's house is also a little red house. That is how she is known, she is Grandma in the Red House. Her house was built in 1927 and she is only the second owner of her house. This is amazing to me compared to Ashburn which is still so new. When we bought our house it was only seven years old and we were already the fourth owners. Even after being in our house for ten years now, we still occasionally get mail for all three of the previous owners. 

But my mom has been in her house for 47 years. I remember being really little and eating in the tiny kitchen before she added a room on the back of the house. I remember when the room on the back was being built and standing at the edge of what was going to be a bay window and sticking my hand out into the rain during a storm. I remember being in the bigger of the two extra bedrooms when I was small and I remember when my youngest brother was born, I moved into the little room so my brothers could share the bigger room. I remember when the fireplace was added in the living room and all the Thanksgivings and Christmases and birthdays that were celebrated in the little red house. I remember waking up the morning of my wedding in my room with the blue striped wall paper and the white eyelet curtains. 

A few weeks ago, I finished reading a book, The House I Loved. It was about a woman named Rose that lived in Paris during the 1860's during the time period that Napoleon III wanted to modernize the city with a better water system but also wanted to create wide boulevards. In the process of this project, many neighborhoods in Paris were knocked down to make way for the modern boulevards. Rose's house was one of the houses to be destroyed. Rose loved her house and would do anything to stay in it. The book is Rose writing letters to her dead husband telling him about her life since he died and what was happening to their family home. 

Rose kind of reminded me of the Disney movie Up, Karl and Ellie, loving their house, Karl not ready to let go of it, willing to do anything to stay in it as long as possible, Karl asking Ellie what he should do.

As I sit here and think about my own memories of the house I grew up in and the books The Little House and I House I Loved as well as the movie Up, I think about my own house. Does she have stories to tell? What memories will my own children have of the house they are growing up in? Will they remember finding turtles in the backyard and watching fireflies in the summer? Will they remember playing for hours and hours in the basement setting up towns with blocks and Thomas trains and building zoos with the animals? Will they remember the family movie nights when all six of us squeeze on the couch, popcorn in hand and Chris always falling asleep fifteen minutes into the movie? Will they remember when we buried Mr. Bunny in the backyard and the countless funerals we had for all of our fish?

My oldest is about to start her sophomore year of high school. We don't have much time left of all six of us being tucked in our beds at night under this one roof we call home. One day, I remember Molly asking about what we were doing the next day and it was one of those days that I really couldn't think about the next day, so I replied, "Just enjoy now, and don't worry about the future." Which she then replied, "You do know, Mom, now will be the past of the future." She was trying to tell me that, "now" isn't just "now" but it is also the past. 

When Molly was in second grade, I would go into her class to read aloud. I would just pick-up wherever the teacher had left off. One of the books they read was Little House in the Big Woods. On the last page, it says:

She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown-fiddle. She looked at Ma gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, "This is now."
She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now was now. It could never be a long time ago.

So, I need to take my own advice and not worry about the future, and about when this moment is someday, "a long time ago," but just enjoy the now, because now is now.

My house may not be red, but it does have a red door.

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