My children are on their way home to celebrate our last Thanksgiving in this house. My parents and mother-in-law and sisters-in-law will join us tomorrow. This house is one we longed for, dreamed about, waited for once we purchased the unimproved land, built, landscaped, decorated, and inhabited for eleven years. When we moved here I thought I’d stay until my children wheeled me into a nursing home. I couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else.
Over the past few years, however, I have been slowly letting go of this house, even before I knew that my husband would leave his job and it would make financial sense to say goodbye. Kevin and I will close escrow next week on a home in Bainbridge Island, Washington. We will take ownership of a sixty-year-old house that has been home to only one man, and his wife (and I am guessing their children) and pets (confirmed by the home inspector). I know little more than his name. Neal is at least eighty years old, has moved onto his final home, and his documents are being signed by a power of attorney.
I am thankful to be moving to a home that has sheltered a single family who lived and loved in it for sixty years. Walking through their home I gathered fragments of their story. This couple loved to garden, they liked green paint, wallpaper borders and lace curtains, they needed a handrail to step in and out of the shower tub, they didn’t use their basement in their later years. I will never Neal’s family, but I want them to know that Kevin and I will be good stewards of their house––which according to our realtor and home inspector has good bones, but needs some blood transfusions and organ transplants.
It already feels like home, and this Thanksgiving I am so grateful for my husband (we began dating in November 1980), for all that we have weathered and how we have grown closer through each challenge. New life that beckons to us in that mid-century house on Bainbridge Island and the vision of how to share this new blessing with others reveals and refines itself day by day.
I give thanks for the years in our dream house in Boulder Creek, for the hospitality we could offer through our house to church classes, coworkers for meetings, teenagers on Friday nights, family and friends in need of short and long term living arrangements. For the joy of watching our children grow from elementary students to confident college students, and the wonder they brought home to us as they ventured out of these doors. For the sanctuary of my very own office with my view of Betsey the Cow, a room where I wrote sermons, newsletters, and essays, from which I served a church and earned my master’s degree. A home that had enough space and privacy for Kevin to conduct much of his international business work from “his desk” and then Jennifer’s as we dared to claim her former bedroom as an office once it was clear she was launched.
I am blessed by Thanksgiving, for sanctioned gratitude to honor the season lived here. And as it falls away, something new is being born, so fitting as we enter Advent on Sunday.
I pray for the new family that will be moving into our home. Three generations under one roof—and maybe a fourth to come—who have looked for three years for a house that suits them all. May they be blessed by this home that we gave our heart and sweat to. May they prosper on this land, may it empower their dreams for their season in this place.