Before I found this Flickr image, I had never read this Irish blessing before. What a beautiful idea!
I remember in college, I spent a semester abroad in the Netherlands. My school owned a castle there—a full-on castle with a moat and towers and everything. The school gave us all three-day weekends, and two full weeks off so we could maximize our Eurail passes.
I didn’t bring as much money as other students did—I actually put a lot on my credit card and then worked extra to pay it off when I returned home—so I spent quite a few weekends almost alone in that castle.
It was an absolutely gorgeous space, and I enjoyed reflecting in solitude (and exploring the village), but the memories I cherished the most involved new friends crammed into tiny hostel rooms.
And it wasn’t just the adventure of being in a foreign country that made this so enticing. It was equally exciting to hang out in milk-crate decorated dorm rooms and apartments the following semester. When you’re with good people, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you’re all together.
Now that I live in Los Angeles, I see no shortage of amazing houses far grander than my apartment. I walk by them frequently, and sometimes I admire them for their architecture and opulence. But the most beautiful home I’ve ever seen will always be my grandmother’s.
She has a small apartment in the housing projects where she hosted holiday gatherings for years before recently getting sick. Crammed with way too many Italian people all talking on top of each other, decorated with homemade afghans and one too many pictures of awkwardly posed grandchildren, it always feels warm and full of love.
That’s what makes a house of home. It’s not designer décor. It’s not the perfect furniture. It’s not the sprawling living room, backyard, or deck. It’s the sometimes messy, always cozy sense of comfort and welcome. It’s where one more person is always received with a friendly, boisterous, “Heeeeey!” in unison (or maybe that’s just us Italians).
There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, and living in a spacious, comfortable house.
But in the end, it’s not our stuff that we value. What really matters is how much space we create in our hearts—and how comfortable we are opening them to let other people in.
Photo by CarbonNYC