September 7, 2007

The Velveteen House

I skim through so many things before throwing them away. An article titled "The Velveteen House" caught my eye and captured my imagination, remembering the classic children's story The Velveteen Rabbit.

I grabbed the book off the shelf and read the story. Reading the classic dialogue reminded me of something else I read a long while back. I had driven Monte's mom to the hospital for an out-patient procedure and sat in the waiting room. I read an AARP retirement-age magazine article on "Eldercool"-- who of the older generation is cool to the younger generations. And why are the cool cool? Basically it's those who are "real".

And like the story dialogue says, "Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
"What is REAL?" asks the Velveteen Rabbit of the Skin Horse.
"Real isn't how you are made" (they were looking at all the fancy toys surrounding them in the nursery). "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?"
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful, "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?"
"...You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Then of course the story goes on with the rabbit's journey to becoming Real.

So here I am today. I have 6 adults and 12 kids coming to our house tomorrow from Colorado Springs to just 'hang out' with us (they're bringing an RV and babysitter and food for the day). I have more green beans to freeze right now, and then broccoli before it flowers. And I have to clean the house. And here I just had to write!

I don't have the time to have a 'perfect appearance' house, or a "House Beautiful". Every nook and cranny of our house is well-used and full of purpose. Our guest room is well used. Books lining all our many shelves aren't there for color and decor, though they do offer that. The heirloom things around are used (they were Real before I got them and now we add to that Realness). I have no 'white space' in my home. But all my junk is organized in a pretty way.

We do have a beautiful house. It is 'a house to look at'. But it's the internal beauty of a house of purpose, well-worn and loved. It's a Velveteen House.
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