This is not a picture of just any house at Christmastime. It sits on Spy Pond in Arlington, MA, and it is the house my mother grew up in. Her mother as well, and so on. It was a true “family” house during the years that we owned it. It’s walls house memories of Saturday mornings, awakening to the smell of burnt toast (my grandmother’s favorite) and the sound of WHDH radio. Breakfast usually consisted of figure 8 danish (you know, the kind with the lemon on one side and the raspberry on the other) and the assorted 8 pack of cereal that has all the sugary ones and maybe 2 “good for you” kinds. Oh yes and of course a selection of donuts; all of the goodies I could only get when I slept over Nana and Papa’s. I can’t forget to mention how my grandfather never forgot to sing “Good Morning Mary Sunshine” to me as I sleepily padded into the kitchen in the morning. About 50 yards away from the house was a playground lined with willow trees that dipped the tips of their branches into the pond. I played on the little horse that bobbed back and forth for what seemed like forever. Although my family no longer owns this house, I still visit, just to sit and gaze at it. I stay a while, and cry a little, but all in all- it’s a good thing. Days spent there were happy days with people whom I cherished in this life. So why does this picture fall under the category of peaceful? Because the last time I visited I began to worry that the house was not a happy house- that maybe it was starting to be neglected. This picture brings me peace because it was taken just a couple of months ago by a friend of my mother’s. After seeing the warm glow of lights in it’s windows, all ready for Christmas- I knew in my heart that this house is still loved.
“Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by;
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.”
-Sam Walter Foss
(This except from the poem House by the Side of the Road hung in a frame next to the front door in my grandparent’s house…and I never understood what the words cynic’s ban meant either!)