Can you really buy or sell a home?
Neither this world nor any of its place is an "environment." And a house for sale is not a "home." Wendell Berry. p.19 of "The Mad farmer Poems"
I have been thinking about how we use the words home and house.
First, some ways we use "home" that are nonsense with "house."
We can "go home" but we don't "go house."
We can feel "at home" but we don't "feel at house."
We refer to "home baked foods" but not "house baked goods."
We "write home" about our vacationing but we never "write house" about our vacation.
Some ways in which we use house that are nonsensical with home.
We go to church in a "house of worship.
We have a "House of representatives" and a "house of ill repute."
We have a "vaudeville house," a "publishing house" and we "house" students in a dormitory.
These different uses of "home" and "house" reveal that "home" is used to depict an intimate place, a place that emotionally tugs at our hearts. A home is a place you would expect the family to have emotional attachment because of intimate relationships with the immediate family.
It is obvious that if we talk of selling or buying a home it will convey a mind picture of warmth, families eating together, children playing, decorating the home for the holidays. When we speak about buying a house it is going to convey a cooler mental picture. Therefore it is only expected that real estate agents will use language that causes good, warm feelings.
Is this deceptive or is it just good marketing? Is it appropriate to speak of selling or buying a "home?" I am not about to start a crusade to change how we use the terms "house" and "home" in real estate. However, I do propose that we cannot truly sell or buy a "home." We help people sell and buy houses. I wonder if the reason so many people are able to walk away from their "house" when things get tough economically is because the place they live in has never really become a "home?" It amazes me even here in Lexington how the vast majority of "home owners" will not fight to save their "homes." Could it be because so many have slept in the beds and parked in the driveway but have not lived a life that created feelings of intimacy in the "house" they live?
When I was growing up on the family farm my mother baked seven loaves of bread and a batch of cinnamon rolls every week. I can still see those rolls being pulled from the oven and smell the cinnamon wafting through the kitchen. When I came home from school my mother was always preparing a meal or harvesting veggies or cutting flowers. The smells and sights of our little farm were an integral part of our home. All of our food was prepared in the home, we often had church members or neighbors visit our home even unexpectedly. The community had a feeling also that our home was their home.
This evening when I open the door to our home here in Lexington I expect to smell soup warming on the gas stove. The primary ingredients in that soup were raised in my garden last summer. I am filled with gratitude to be able to eat the fruits of my own labor prepared by the love of my life. Using a little of the the land to grow even a fraction of our own food to share with loved ones, with neighbors and friends can be a "home" building experience.
When we real estate agents speak of "selling a home" I would argue we can sell a "house" but never a "home." A home is made from life experiences. It is not made from sticks and stones. A home is an organic experience that creates memories and feelings over a number of years.
I wonder how many people today take the time to really create a home? How many people live a life so busy they cannot begin to find time to eat together much less muster up the energy to prepare food? How many families have the time to build memories together on a daily basis? It seems to me most families are running from one activity to another spending most of their time on a crowded highway, in a crowded sports practice facility, or a crowded church.
Could it be that much of the need to buy a different house is because our culture of Bigger and Nicer has blinded us to the real truth about what brings happiness. I truly believe that people are happiest and healthiest when they they are in relationships with man and God that bring inner peace.