Google defines home as: “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”
I guess that is what most of us would see as home. I often think of home as Cape Town, in South Africa, where I am from. If I think hard enough about it, I realise that is because my friends and family are there. We have been living in Wellington, New Zealand for 7 months now, and are slowly settling in and making friends, and some days I walk through the city and it feels a bit like home. There is something about walking past a familiar face, or making small talk with someone you vaguely know, that makes a place feel slightly less strange.
Since my kids were born, I’ve worked from home or just been a stay at home mom, and my sole sphere of influence has been my home and my kids. So I have basically just channeled my energies into making my home as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as possible. It means I can be super obsessive about it being clean and tidy… to my husband and children’s great chagrin.
Twice in my 8 years of running my own home have I been paid the highest compliment about my home. Once was when a friend came over and said that my chaotic house (in which my then 2 and a half year old son has distributed all his toys) was a very peaceful home. The second was in our small apartment in the city, where we have mostly thrifted furniture and decor (which I like, by the way), and a friend called it the “homeliest place in Wellington”.
Is it sad that to me that’s high praise? No one will ever use neat or beautiful to describe my home. There is always a stray sock, some Lego, someone’s shoes, some cookie crumbs, a childish scribble and some used mugs standing around. Our furniture, as previously stated, cost more to deliver to our place than the pieces themselves, and vintagey table cloths are my chosen decor. I cannot claim to be a good homemaker, or a housekeeper… But I will say that I like to feed people, I’ve always enjoyed feeding and chatting to students and young adults, or people away from their own homes. I’m no Nigella, but I have learnt to cook tasty meals for people on a whim. I really enjoy it. I missed that when we moved over from Cape Town, because it seems the culture here is much more one of meeting people in a coffee shop than opening your home to them. In a way I see it as people also being afraid that in opening your home to people you have to open your life to them, and as a society I guess we don’t like that so much. I do. I don’t like airing my laundry to strangers (which, living in an apartment actually does happen), but I like having people pop over for some coffee and a bite to eat, while lounging on my cheap-yet-comfy couch.
I’m hoping that in the future, we will make more friends this way, by being vulnerable and opening our home to them, so they can for a couple of hours feel at home, as part of our family. Even if they need to move a Tranformer or a tiara out of the way before sitting on the couch.
I feel this also relates to the refugee crisis in the world. If I could I would happily take in a family and give them a home, in my home, because everyone needs a safe place, a place where they are loved, despite of their faith, or their culture. I would adopt the orphans of this horrible Syrian war, this war that we speak of as “their” problem, not one we would personally choose to deal with. Maybe because I am “religious” and I believe we are: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27) But also I believe in being a decent human being regardless of what you believe in.
In some countries, people live in mansions, with a room for every member of their family… and these refugees are fleeing and looking for a home, even if its just a room for a family of 6, somewhere that they will be free from the violence and where their children have a future. As a mother, I can only begin to imagine the desperation that Syrian parents feel. Slowly I see more governments actually doing something to help these people, we can only hope and pray that more of our world leaders find the humanity to reach out and help, and that we as the people will welcome and adopt and support those refugees who so very much need a home.