Old houses are a funny thing. I find myself wondering what past holidays were like. Were they happy? Was there a real tree in the living room, or an artificial one? What were the traditions, the favorite things shared, were the gifts handmade, was there a big meal or a simple but traditional breakfast?
Of course, people vary in what they think about homes with any history. Some say it’s silly, houses don’t have a soul or a past. Others say every life ever in it leaves a bit of themselves behind. As we remodeled Oakleaf, we found a lot of past marks, some of which we kept, some, like the LEGO wedged inextricably between a couple of floorboards upstairs, we had no choice but to keep as we refinished the floors. Signs of a bigger dog than the little wiry one we met, the partly sanded-out sibling rivalry evidenced on a bedroom door (we sanded it out the rest of the way, though we found it amusing), the names of all the children inscribed in pencil in a hidden spot.
I was glad my family wanted to celebrate Christmas at Oakleaf Cottage this year. It seemed wrong for a house to sit empty on such a big holiday, and we were happy to bring in a tree. Mom made a yummy holiday brunch, we all entertained my 6-month old nephew, took lots of photos and had a nice little holiday together. We may not have that luxury next year, but knowing the house will not be empty for big holidays makes us feel warm inside.
We had the opportunity to enjoy Oakleaf for the very reason, and very use, that we envision for others: a place for families to enjoy together.
So here we are, greeting 2017. Oakleaf Cottage has some lovely guests enjoying the New Year already — a gathering of family, some from afar. Another such meeting of old friends booked earlier today. It looks like the Cottage will be what we dreamed, full of happy memories, great meals, connecting with friends and families, relaxing in nature, and living in the moment.
At the end of the day, the above things are what is important in life.
May your 2017 be filled with good times, great friends, fantastic food, plenty of fresh air and just enough time in a day to appreciate those moments.