Recently my wife and I sold a big box of sticks. Well, to be more accurate, we sold the house where we raised our family. And to those who know, the two could not be more different.
“It’s just a house,” we said to each other in hopes of softening the emotional loss. Sitting on the back porch, trees wrapping around us like giant green arms trying to comfort us, we shared a few tears.
But in a cold, stark reality, a house is nothing but a big box of sticks. Just ask my insurance agent. My homeowner’s insurance does not cover the loss of laughter over dinner in the kitchen or the mornings you wake up to a house of sleeping teenagers you’ve never met. No, on paper, a house is a big box of sticks with a mathematical figure attached.
But I guess that is what makes life so magical – our ability to turn an inanimate object into something much more meaningful.
This week my wife and I sat around laughing as we watched a mental highlight reel of our years inside the big box of sticks. The time our daughter swiped the side of the garage learning to drive or our son wrestled with a jackhammer digging out the front sidewalk. Or maybe it was how we’d regularly discover a half-dozen empty pizza boxes in the kitchen – along with a handful of cars parked along the curb – that did not exist when we turned in for the night.
Yeah, that box of sticks was wonderful.
We even remember sitting across the street with the neighbors on a hot summer afternoon picking out a new color to paint the house. Cold beers in our hands, we all debated the different shades of yellow my wife painted across a particular spot on the exterior to see how they’d look. What is amazing is how the time it took to select the right color coincided exactly to the number of beers we had on hand.
You see, the sum value of a box of sticks will always be much more than anything a calculator-tooting actuary can accurately estimate.
Even a box of sticks can take on its own personality. Sometimes it is as simple as recognizing the sound of beams popping in the attic as cold front races though or the cry of the screen door as someone goes out to the garage. Eventually the unique sounds all become family.
Emotions are one of the most beautiful things God grants us. With it we are able to carry with us feelings and connections long after the present becomes the past. And a return ticket is as easy as simply pausing and taking a moment to remember.
So our big box of sticks is gone – and now in the hands of wonderful young family. But the memories that magically turned a house into a home will forever warmly reside in our hearts.
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