Becoming a Keeper of the Home
by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Okay, I know what you’re thinking? This post is going to be all about how to keep your home nice and neat through the holidays, right?
If you were with me at the moment, you would see that I’m probably not the woman to give you all sorts of housekeeping advice. My house isn’t that bad—I won’t be on the next episode of Hoarders or anything—but I’m not a perfectionist.
So, what do I mean about being a keeper of the home? Consider this: What we become keepers of determine whom we become (The Living Page, by Laurie Bestvater, page 101). I’m not asking you to do more housekeeping, though your family might want me to. I’m not going to plan for you the perfect system to manage your clutter during the Holiday season. But I am going to show you three ways to become Keepers of your Home.
First, let’s define the word home. Okay, you’re right. The place where we live. Let’s go deeper. What is home? Family. Memories. Keepsakes. Laughter. Late night talks. Long-distance company. That special quilt. Bringing home baby. Your book nook. Conversation. Family game night. That view you love. Eating dinner around the large farmhouse table. Well, that list will mean something different to each of you, and I’m sure you could add many more.
Home is so much more than four walls and a roof. It takes a lot to keep our house tidy, but I’d venture to say that it takes even more to keep our home in the right frame of mind and focused on love and kindness—maybe even more so through the bustle of the holiday season.
Doesn’t it happen almost every year right around January 3, we ask ourselves: Wait? When did Christmas happen? And what did I do for the last month? Can we even remember what we experienced this year?
As we approach Christmas and the New Year, I want you to reminisce with me over the life that has happened in your home during 2014. Can you recall when the first spring bud blinked open? Or the day that your child lost his first tooth? What about the first spring birds singing or a nest of eggs you found? Did you hear a special baby laugh for the first time? What about the magic of the first snowfall? Or when did that first little idea pop into your head that was the catalyst for a new home business or project?
Can you remember? Did you keep those memories for your home? Are you following me? Are you a Keeper of your home? You know that beautiful place that is filled with memories, love, and joy…do you remember the life you’ve lived in 2014?
Here are three strategies for you to become a Keeper…and I’m not talking about smart phone pictures or Facebook.
1. Bottled up Joy. What? You don’t think we can bottle up joy? Sure we can! This one is so easy your children and grandchildren can participate or even be the ring-leaders. Get an empty mason jar or pick something that matches your personal style. Cut up slips of papers and keep them near the jar. When there’s something on your mind that you’re thankful for or a special memory—write it, fold it, and put in the jar! It doesn’t get easier than that!
My family did this for 2014 and my oldest daughter especially enjoyed it. I’ve been watching the jar fill up since January and many of them are from her. What a blessing to watch her consider her thankfulness and joyful memories—misspelled words and all. Children can often express their thankfulness better than adults—but let’s provide our families with opportunity and be an example. There are so many negatives that we all take in around us and it’s not always easier to focus on beauty and thankfulness—but how much sweeter would our homes be if we were intentional? As a Keeper we can add to this through recording and preserving—even in the simplest of ways, like a jar full of memories. My family will open our jar on Thanksgiving Day and enjoy reliving the memories that brought about the thank you notes.
Now, let’s go a little further…
2. Calendar of Firsts. This is merely a perpetual calendar where you record the firsts of each year. I’m not talking about journaling—many of us just can’t keep up with one. All you need is a perpetual calendar or just a plain notebook—you can add the dates. Use it until it’s full to the brim—this could take years! It only takes a minute to record a first that happened: snowfall, birdsong, a special visitor, birth, and so much more. Make sure you add the year for future reference. This kind of notebook historically started out more to record the natural and organic things that happened, such as the changing of seasons and all that brings; but you can easily add those special dates specific to your family. It will provide years of fond memories, smiles, and thankfulness.
How about a little more abstract…
3. Commonplace Notebook. A commonplace book records knowledge that you want to keep. Often times these are lines, quotes, poems, recipes, scripture, world or local news, maybe even something a child or grandchild said to you that you want to remember—anything that made you pause and consider and mull over. Commonplace books used to be very popular historically but society has gotten away from it in our contemporary times—especially with the use of technology. How does this actually preserve memories for your family, when it’s mostly quotes or phrases? This book slows us down to become participants in our own lives, to record what we are learning, and to be able to share those things with our family and friends. Our Facebook quotes and quibbles won’t be preserved or provide wisdom to our children, it is as fleeting as the dust—but by keeping a commonplace notebook and recording through the written word, you’re sharing the beauty of knowledge with your family for generations to come. Talk about becoming a Keeper of your home and many future homes.
Not everyone will have time for all three of these methods, but everyone has time for at least one. But none of this can be done without you taking the time to observe and participate in the world around you. These keeping methods can become keepsakes for many years for your family, just like a photo album. There is great value and beauty in preserving your memories of your home life and family.
Don’t let this Christmas season or any season move past you without appreciating the firsts, the thankfulness in the life you live everyday, and the knowledge gained.
Recording memories > reminiscing and sharing > sweet sigh and a smile > great thankfulness!
Become a Keeper.
Elizabeth Byler Younts is an Air Force officer’s wife and a homeschooling mom with two young daughters, currently living in Central Pennsylvania. Elizabeth is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. www.elizabethbyleryounts.com
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