Here I sit, satisfied, at my clean, organized desk, staring up at the Stendig calendar (that I hung this past week) reading "February". I can't believe January is all done already! Besides the desk, did I finish well?
The Cure ended in our house with a weekend full of guests. We had two separate celebrations. The first: I invited my Greek professor over for dinner to mark the end of last semester. We cooked Jamie Oliver's "Jool's Favorite Beef Stew", which was warm and home-y, followed by apples in a caramel brandy sauce with ice cream. My prof exclaimed over dinner "now this is what I call real food!". Later we hung out in the living room and chatted over mugs of hot chocolate. Perfect.
The second: my son Ralph's 3rd birthday party. 15 children under 8 and their parents. Could it be any more different than the quiet evening the night before? I had forgotten to take a photo of the kids' bedroom before the party, so I grabbed my camera 15 minutes in and… it was a complete disaster zone. Every possible thing out on the floor. But they were having a blast! The fact I had moved the toys to accessible containers worked out great. After spaghetti for lunch (Ralph's favorite), we played party games and a friend surprised the kids with balloon animals. And the cake! At Ralph's request, I made a quarry cake.
I am pretty sure he had a blast!
So much can be said about the end of a story. An ending shapes the beginning and the middle, it reveals the story's theme, its message, it tells us what the story was really about. And now as I come to the end of this month, of all that cleaning, organizing and decorating, the ending answers this question: why do we "cure" our houses at all?
The end of this story was a party, a celebration. And of course it should be. Because my home, and beautifying it, is not about "just having a beautiful home". It's not even about having "my own beautiful home". I work hard cleaning and making my home comfortable, high-functioning and inviting for my family and my friends, for our guests, for others.
This is something I hope we carry into the rest of the year — that when we are scrubbing the kitchen, or sorting through that pile of clothes, or even re-caulking the bathtub, that we are doing it just to build a home. Keeping a clean and tidy house is hard for me, but here is what I can hold onto through the year for motivation: we do it so that someone else, whoever that might be, might be given the gift of feeling at home with us.
(Images: Alison Gerber and Aimee Thorne, used with permission)