Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Joyful Chaos

For those of you who have read the Harry Potter books, you may remember with horror or fondness--depending on your inner tolerance for chaos--the Weasley's house, "The Burrow."

Coming back to my parents' home in Pennsylvania felt like coming home to The Burrow. My parents live in a large white farmhouse, which looks a bit like one of the large barns the area is known for. As you pull up, you're struck by something odd: tin foil in all the windows. Actually, it's emergency survival blankets, shiny-side-out. It reflects the sunlight and keeps the house cooler, because in an old farm house you don't have central air-conditioning.

When you get inside, there's a big stone hearth in the living room with a wood-stove insert. A spinning wheel usually sits in the entryway beside baskets overflowing with wool and yarn, but knowing how much Cimorene would love the spinning wheel--and not wanting any Sleeping Beauty instances--my mom took that upstairs. She also moved the loose wool, but she left several baskets of yarn, which Cimorene has enjoyed tying in knots.

My mom is a country-style decorator, using things like frilly gathered curtains (which she made, of course), quilts, and those baskets of yarn that I mentioned. Supervising it all are the bears. This happens to be one of Cimorene's favorite parts about my parents' house. There are teddy bears everywhere.

My mom has collected Boyds Bears for as long as I can remember; she always gets one from my dad for Christmas, and sometimes she gets them for other occasions as well. There are bears on the mantle dressed in overcoats and mufflers. There are bears in little summer dresses. There's one next to me now with tweed pants, a tan, chenille sweater, and a black bow-tie. There are bears on the bookshelf, bears on top of the entertainment center, bears on the piano. There are bears in baskets, bears on corner shelves, windowsills, and even one upstairs in a bathrobe. Including her little Boyds figurines, I'm counting 57 in the living room alone.

It's not all country-style, however. The corner shelf is filled with bears on the bottom, but the top shelf is full of asian items, and a Taiwanese painted umbrella hangs from the ceiling above. Somehow, despite these things being completely different, they still seem to fit together.

It's not just the house that reminds me of The Burrow, though; it's the feeling. Joyful chaos. My mom tries really hard to keep everything clean and organized, but somehow between all of us kids (Nate, Neil and I are all home right now, and, of course, Cimorene, who makes more trouble than the rest of us combined) things just stay a little... well, exciting. Heh heh.

Poor mom.

I love it, though. It feels like home to me. As much as I would love my own home to be spotless all the time, it's a good reminder that I don't always feel comfortable in a perfectly decorated, perfectly spotless house.

Like my mother, I will probably always stress about how disorganized I am, or how crazy my house is. But I will also throw awesome parties where I make Chinese food or indestructible pinatas, and I will pick gallons of raspberries from the bushes in my backyard, and I will run my kids to all their activities, and I'll have a homemade windowseat in my bedroom where I can sit and read.

Being here is a good reminder for me of what I really want my home to be like. It doesn't have to be spotless. It just has to be a home. A little joyful chaos is what made Harry Potter fans fall in love with the Weasley's home. It's what will make my children love mine.


  1. Shannon, your home-to-be sounds like the place I'd like to visit! ;) I think of this often, too, when I get dismayed by the fact that my home doesn't look like a magazine plate. Because you know what? I really don't CARE if my home looks picture perfect, and I don't CARE if I don't throw the fanciest parties with hand-designed place cards and expensive designer sodas. What I really care about is that my home is a place where people want to be, where love saturates the air, and where the Spirit is easily accessible.

    If I can accomplish that - I'm happy.

  2. Agreed. I just have to remind myself sometimes of what's really important to me. I heard someone describe their home once as "clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy." I think that's the rule I'll try to follow. :-)

  3. I would much rather have my family home and enjoying them than have the house spotless...although...clean and organized makes me feel good too :) I now know why I have collected bears for so long - nice to have someone get so excited when she sees them!!!

  4. I talked about this (indirectly) with the lady (Zoey) who I sat by on the way to Lackland AFB. She was raised in a home run by hippies, where everything was thrashed because the kids were allowed anywhere; her husband was raised in one of those homes that belonged in a magazine.

    Her home is sort of a mix (except that her 6-month-old can crawl now). I think that I agree with most of it, but I'd like a place that isn't necessarily off-limits, but a "no touching" rule has to be in place. Also, we'll have to teach the kids to take care of things. I think that's one of the biggest things. :D

    I miss you, beautiful.


Please leave a comment; knowing people are reading encourages me to keep writing.