When does a house become a home?

Last weekend I did something I haven’t done in 20 years — I changed my address.  Earlier this week as my wife and I were closing the sale of our old residence, I commented about the odd feeling I had as I was leaving our completely empty home for the last time. The notary from the title company paused and reminded me that it wasn’t my home, it was just a house. What a thought provoking statement – I had to pause and ask myself, “when does a house become a home?

Twenty years ago, it was just my wife and I. We moved to that house to start and raise a IMG_0233[1]family. Most of our significant memories and all of our daughter’s memories are wrapped up in that house. First steps, birthday parties, sleep overs, swimming in the back yard, grandparents on Christmas morning, trusting the Savior, boyfriends visiting, backing the car out of the driveway for the first time, leaving for college, and many other memories in between. For most of those years I worked from an office in that house and had the privilege of taking conference calls both with my little girl curled up in my lap, and with my grown girl reminding me that the work day was over and it was now her time. The memories in that house are wonderful, joyful, intense, timeless…all swirling together.

In stark contrast, the process of selling that house and subsequently buying a new house is completely impersonal. I guess I am glad that new processes and safeguards have been put in place to prevent another mortgage crisis, but I have to admit that the financial scrutiny buyers go through is similar to what I imagine a top secret security clearance would require. If you have earned it, bought it, sold it, transferred it, or filed it; if you’ve worked there, banked there, invested there, done business there, or inherited there; if you have a passport, drivers license, birth certificate, green card or some other form of papers; they want copies and will do a forensic audit to make sure everything lines up.  I learned things about my finances that I had forgotten.  Every person in the process was friendly, but the nature of what they do is impersonal. So when the notary made the comment about my home, it caught me off guard. But I’m glad she did.

You see, I’m big on marking important events in life. One of the things I have done since before our daughter was born is record a video letter to her sharing my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and of course that I love her without condition. As we prepared to leave that house, I walked room to room with my video camera replaying in my minds eye the memories we had built as a family in each of those rooms. For me, that’s the answer to the question. My home here on earth isn’t at an address, it’s in the memories of the past and the anticipation of the future I will share with those I love wherever we happen to be living at the time.  Here’s to making our new house into a home!

What makes a house become a home for you? Leave a comment.


About Ron Riffe

IBM Manager, Software Defined Portfolio. Adoring husband, proud daddy, imperfect but redeemed. I have a thirty year background in the storage industry having held positions as both a consumer and a peddler and in roles spanning from administrator, to thought leader, to strategic planner, to senior manager. I’m also a passionate leader, speaker and author. My perspectives are my own.
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