So, there went Valentine's Day. And what are the chances of this almost divorced, hardworking, under-appreciated, mother of four being sparky about a holiday that truly only works for so few people in the universe?
You're right. The chances are slim. But I was walking with my friend today. And as I was gearing up for a good little Valentine's rant, I could feel she knew where I was going. And she sort of fell silent as she walked next to me. I had the unusual good sense to pause with her. “Oh… you actually like it,” I say. And she sheepishly smiles and says, “Well I do like eating chocolate. And telling my loved ones I love them.”
Gosh… Enough said. Mic drop. I wish I was more like that.
So I’m not the person you’d run to for relationship advice. But it all got me to thinking—what are some little Valentine gifts we can give to our hardworking, under-appreciated and often taken for granted homes? And I don’t mean the chocolates and the roses (for your home that would be paint and getting the floors done.) I mean the thoughtful little things we do to make another feel seen, acknowledged, and appreciated.
Speak to me, homes. I’m here for you. What are your top ten requests?
- Your home wants you to take out the kitchen trash and give the closet, the cabinet, the bins and anything even close to touching these items a good antiseptic rub down.
- Your home also says, "Please put something nice on your window sill." Something that you will enjoy when you are looking out, and when you are looking in too. A shrine. To you, and to your home.
- And, yikes, but some homes report there is still holiday stuff about?? It’s ok. No judgment. Just take it down. It’s over. It’s time. (And yes, you’re welcome.)
- And (heavy sigh), yes that includes the front door holiday wreath. Yeesh!
- But... maybe not so fast on the small white Christmas lights. I have a friend who just sent me some pics of hers still up all over her house. Because they make her happy. And feel celebratory. My mom was the same way. Anything that sparkled. If that’s you... go for it. Your home will love you for it.
- Some homes are asking for you to vacuum your furniture. That’s right—take the cushions off, vacuum both their sides, plus get in all the crevices of the frame (yuk). And then jump around on those cushions like a lunatic. Go get your kids to help! It resets all that muscle memory built into the foam and feather inserts. I mean, you know how you feel after a deep tissue massage, right? I think we could all use a little plump-up like that right now.
- We’ll lump these next two things together—it will seem like less work that way. But give your foyer, your coat closet or coat rack, your junk mail bin, your key bowl, your front porch, your basket of pinecones, the dirt and ice and grime on the floor, the boot rack… Give it all a little love. It’s almost like brushing your teeth before a date. This is the entrance to your home—have it represent you well. Actually, have it represent the you that would have brushed your teeth before a date. I know with COVID we’ve all slipped a little.
- This one’s important: homes like living things. It is an amazing truth that an abandoned property deteriorates at a much more rapid pace than when a family is living in it, even when that family does absolutely no maintenance. So bring some outside in. Flowers or orchids or a rosemary plant. I’ve had my paper whites up since December. I just can’t part with those long green leaves even though they are now flopping over and I’ve had to create a pretty ingenious leaf band tied around their middles to prop them up. Go outside and clip pretty branches, evergreen leaves, driftwood, berries. It will make you and your home feel better.
- I’ve got a home in the back yelling at me, “Hey, set the table now and then!” Yes, an excellent point. I know one year ago I was making holiday-themed meals every Tuesday and we were all getting dressed up to participate in a wacky zoom call. Now, I avoid those calls at all costs and seem to roast a weekly pan of vegetables for whenever-eating. It was all so novel back then. And you're right, I've slipped. I really do need to set the table more.
- And lastly, (and all your homes are in full agreement) – cultivate joy. My kids went to a local preschool, aptly called MagicYears. I had 10 years between my oldest and youngest, so I spent a fair amount of time on the playground of that preschool – helping out or waiting for the kids to get released. And early on I spied, and had compassion for, this brave little tree that someone had planted as a thank you gift. I thought that tree didn’t stand a chance. I mean it really started as a springy twig, but the kids gave it all the respect they would give a more seasoned tree. They congregated around it, and strategized below it, and tried to climb it, and attempted to hang upside-down off its one poor little extended limb. I sort of silently thanked it for its service and promised that I’d pay it a visit in the compost pile when it was finally resting there. But over the years, surprisingly enough, that little tree thrived. Sort of like my uterus in fact, as I kept turning up with a new baby in tow. So cultivate joy. Have a pillow fight. FaceTime a friend. Keep up your sparkly lights. Live, dance, love, cry – all like no one’s looking. Be fearless. Even in the face of everything. Almost because of all we are facing. There is really no better time to figure out a way to celebrate than this moment right now. Because homes, and all of us really, like living things.