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One day my daughter, daughter in law and I went to the Parade of Homes in our area.

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The homes on display in a Parade of Homes are homes you always dream about but know you can never have– perfectly decorated and expensive model homes.

My son and son-in-law were moaning as we trotted out the door all excited to once again get some new decorating ideas. As we made our way to the car, they yelled, “Don’t even think about moving or remodeling when you get home.” They know their wives oh so well.

I don’t know why we torture ourselves, but we do it every year. My daughter called the next day and said, “I get so discouraged after looking at those houses when I walk into my house and see that there is stuff everywhere.” I know what she was talking about because I felt it too but at that same moment, in my minds eye, I was thinking about my daughter’s home and the way it looked the last time I saw it. I then started comparing it to the model homes we had just seen and these words popped into my head, “Her home was decorated with love”.

The Living Room

When you walked into the living room of the model home, there was a place for everything and everything was really in it’s place. I think they even measured the throws and pillows to make sure they were in the right spots. The pictures were of beautiful landscapes and there wasn’t a toy in sight. Contrast this with my daughter’s home, where there was a music stand and chair in the middle of floor where sister, who is learning to play the flute, had played Hot Cross Buns for the twentieth time and sat beaming as family members patiently applauded and praised her again and again and again after each attempt.

There was a very worn “security blanket” (not a throw) rolled up in a ball at the end of the couch. A favorite was pillow laying half on and half off of the couch where middle brother had laid when he was sick and where he had been given special love and attention from mom.

Instead of landscapes, there was mom and dad’s wedding picture and the kids’ school pictures, along with family pictures scattered here and there. There was a dog chew in one corner where big brother had just finished playing with the dog and in another corner was the cat bed where a well loved kitty contentedly slept. There was a stray toy here and there, a few books, a couple of Bibles and some magazines all having been shared and read together at different times.

The Kitchen

When you walked into the kitchen of the model home, there wasn’t a dish in sight- nothing on the counters. It was spotless and shiny. On the other hand, my daughter’s home had a handful of dishes left in the sink from when dad took over and made lunch because mom wasn’t feeling good. There was a pan of water on the stove where sister had fixed a cup of tea for mom and a pan of something burnt and unrecognizable that dad had burnt while trying to cope with lunch and feeding baby brother his bottle all at the same time.

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The Dining Room

The dining room chairs in the model homes were lined up in perfect position. My daughter’s were all in different places from having been used over and over that day. Some were from doing homework, others crafts, coloring, painting, fixing a broken this or that, having a snack together, and always, at the end of the day, sharing dinner together with everyone talking a mile a minute.

Last but not least there was total silence in the model homes, but at my daughter’s there is music all the time. Someone is always singing, whistling, humming or laughing. The dog is barking, someone is always talking and there are even a few boyish burps followed by mom’s scolding them for doing it.

Yes those model homes looked beautiful on the outside but, like your mom always said, it is what is inside that counts. Inside the model home, it was empty, cold and lonely. My daughter’s home certainly wasn’t empty, there were lots of “items of love” scattered everywhere. As far as being cold, all that love and laughter spread warmth to every corner of every room and as for being lonely, you couldn’t find one spot to be lonely in even if you tried. Trust me, my daughter has tried to find a quiet place to be alone in and they still seem to find her.

So here’s to all the homes decorated with love and the moms and dads who decorate them.

-Jill

photo by: colleen-lane