The First Chapter—Filling Rooms with Love and Laughter

I recently reread the 12 stories I posted in 2015 and those stories truly represented the best of times and the worst of times.

The year started out with my sharing thoughts about my word of the year – Celebrate. And certainly there was much to celebrate in 2015—my retirement from Cobb County government; my engagement and the joys sharing my life with the man I loved… as well as the excitement of moving to a new home with him and creating memories.

And then, the November and December stories went in the opposite direction of “celebrate” as Don ended our engagement—leaving me feeling abandoned, confused and angry. All those words I wrote in earlier stories came crashing back at me.

Particularly biting were the words from October—where I wrote: “There is a saying “Home is where the heart is” and my heart is now with a kind and generous man… who has smiling eyes… who makes me laugh and brings joy to my life. And with this man, comes new walls and new rooms. I know these walls and rooms will soon be filled with love, laughter, and joy… and that the memories created here will be a part of a new story… one that I am looking forward to writing.”

But at the end of November, I found myself living in a house where the walls and rooms were not filled with love, laughter, and joy. There was only anger and grief. And I no longer was interested in creating any memories in this house.

Truth was, I was not sure I would continue to live here.

Trying to decide whether to stay in my new house was the biggest decision I had to make. The financial ramifications of this were huge. I had moved out of a smaller size condo with controlled expenses to a large house. Costs would be greater—taxes and utilities and so forth.

I was also dealing with other unexpected expenses. I had already put in money in the house to get it painted and have electrical work done and so forth. But then, I found out I needed more electrical work and there was an issue with the chimney and bla bla bla.

I was, as I would say, bleeding money and my long-standing fiscally conservative side was cringing with every check I wrote.

Also, I no longer lived close to my friends as they were a 35 to 45-minute drive from me. (One bit of good news: I was now much closer than before to my son and his family.) And there were the issues of taking care of this house and the yard…. Cleaning this big house would take forever to do. (I am not a big fan of house cleaning.)

On paper, it made sense to move. It was the logical and practical thing to do.

But there were also reasons to stay—and frankly, they were purely emotional. There is a small part of me that is a little excited about starting over with a fresh slate—and having brand new adventures on my own. The Alpharetta/Crabapple area is very nice and it is convenient to shopping and outdoor activities.  And frankly, I was not sure I had the energy to move.

But most importantly, I fell in love with the screen porch and my small but very private backyard. I did not have either at my condo and I truly enjoyed sitting on the porch and listening to the birds and the sounds from the pond/waterfall that was in the back corner of the yard.  I felt connected on many levels to this house.

I will not bore you with all the other pros and cons but at the end of December….. after several weeks of prayer and after driving around other neighborhoods…. I finally felt as I God was telling me that He had positioned me here and this is where I was to stay.

Now, I will have to confess—due the unexpected events of November—that my trust in God was a little bit shaky—I did wonder if He had been paying attention to all the changes in my life.

Regardless, I decided to take a leap of faith and stay in this house.

But….. for it to become a “home” and not merely a “house”, I knew I had to begin filling these rooms with love and laughter. My first attempt was at Christmas Eve. As with past years, Chris and family joined me for a Christmas Eve celebration and we made reindeer cookies and chaos filled the room when my grandchildren opened their gifts.

Love and laughter magically appeared that night.

Since then, there have been grandchildren sleepovers, Nana days, and Nana afternoons. Over these past few months, we have attempted arts and crafts activities; made cookies as well as chocolate dipped strawberries. We have played games of Go Fish, worked puzzles, read stories, and raced cars in my hallway.

I have learned a lot of things…for example, did you know you can buy a “pizza in a box” kit from Publix and assemble your own cheese pizza?  Did you know white coffee filters can make great snowflakes? Did you know you can mix shaving cream and baking soda to make “snow” and you can then make a snow volcano by adding vinegar to it?  (You can also make a mess….. but I would imagine you could figure that out without me telling you!)

There was a lot I did not know…but in my attempts to bring joy again into my life, I began, as you can see, learning a few things!

And yes, it is a small start. But the truth is I am 4 months out from the drama that took place the night of November 19th and somehow over these past few months, without my realizing it, this “house” has become my “home”.

When I drive my car into the garage and open the door to the kitchen, I feel comfortable and at peace. I no longer feel like a stranger walking into another person’s house.

The words I wrote in October are still true—just not in the way thought they would be…. “I know these walls and rooms will soon be filled with love, laughter, and joy… and that the memories created here will be a part of a new story… one that I am looking forward to writing.”

For your enjoyment….. love, laughter, and joy… the first chapter in the new story.

jfh

The First Chapter Pictures (please note – you can click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Reindeer Cookies—Pizza in a Box—Making Baking Soda Snow—The Mess from Baking Soda Snow—Snowflake Hallway—White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries—Spinach Egg Omelet and Coffee on the Porch—View of Porch from Family Room

 

 

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