My day began in a bit of a panic as Karl and I were awakened by the sounds of Benjamin coughing and gasping for breath. After we got some medicine in his lungs and something to soothe his throat, I set him up on the couch and asked if he’d like a book to read or if he’d like for me to read aloud while we wait for the doctor’s office to open. He chose the latter, and so I picked up The Fellowship of the Ring which was lying on a nearby table. I began with Book II, Many Meetings.
“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all’. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.”
Though I continued reading for his sake, my mind wandered to considering the difference between a house and a home. I’ve been in many houses, but the ones that I remember fondly are the ones that felt like home to me. The ones where all was pleasant, whether there was a party or nothing at all going on. The ones where just being there made you feel better and you hated when it was time to leave.
What makes a homely house? I think there are many things that go into making a homely atmosphere in a house, but, without a doubt, the most important factor is the people. A house can have all kinds of comfortable couches and chairs, be decorated in the latest styles, but those will not compensate for an inhospitable host. Warm welcomes, smiles, hugs, laughter, stories, food and drink (even the simplest offering)….I think those are enough to turn any house into a homely one. And, regardless of the size of our pocketbooks this year, they are within our grasp.
I pray that all our houses would be homely this Christmas.