Good afternoon all. Temperatures are dropping, snow is falling, and winter is coming. It’ll be here in time for Christmas.
Home is our common thread and universal conversation. Talk to a neighbor, stranger, fellow traveler halfway across the world and ask about that person’s home. Where is it? What is it like? Not everyone will have the same answers, but we innately understand each other. (And it’s a more interesting conversation than the weather.) Over the past few weeks, readers have answered questions about home and shared their stories about where they live now, what they love, and what home means to them. The conversation began with this post and this post, and continues here. Part One (today’s post) will discuss “What is Home.” Part Two will discuss the physical elements and making a residence a home. Part Three will discuss our expectations.
Part One: What and Where is Home?
It takes me a long time before someplace becomes “home” to me. For much of my adult life, when I said “home” I referred to my parents’ house. I never felt settled anywhere else or felt like I belonged anywhere else. Virginia was college. Nebraska was one summer. North Carolina was three years, but I knew it was temporary. I lived, wrote, ran, worked in preservation and made a few friends, but I always felt as though there was a new place to go. I had a gypsy soul. Where was I going to find another home, and what exactly did I want? I didn’t have answers. I called this form of wanderlust “geographic commitment phobia.”
Over four years ago, I moved to Vermont. Immediately, I was content to stay for a long while, which was a pleasant, unexpected surprise. However, “home” still didn’t seem like an appropriate description for Vermont. It didn’t matter that I registered my car here, attended school, voted, lived and worked in Vermont, and absolutely loved the state – it wasn’t yet home. The feeling of home took a long time. In fact, it took about four years with many twists, turns, and moves. What happened? Finally, I discovered where I wanted to be and found a great community of friends. To me, that’s what home is after your childhood home: loving where you live (meaning your city/town and your residence) and having friends to share it with. That must sound obvious to many, but it can take a while to get it right – to find that happy, comforting place (other than your childhood house).
Mary (from NYC) writes that she had trouble feeling at home while living in the Panama Canal Zone. “The home of my childhood and young adulthood was the midwest. And then. . . at the age of 34 my husband and I accepted teaching positions in the Panama Canal Zone, where we stayed until we retired. Many “Zonians” felt that Panama was home, but I never did. Frequently I would ask myself, “What am I doing here?” It was, of course, a foreign environment–although the Canal Zone itself was all American. Still we were surrounded by a foreign culture and that is an easy explanation, I suppose, of why I never felt “at home.” Actually, I believe it was more the weather, the vegetation, the lack of seasons. I could never get used to a place where birds were green. Now I am back in the States–in New York City, which is a far cry from my midwestern roots, in many respects, but I feel quite at home.”
Not all feel the same. Some of you are lucky and feel at home immediately. Dave W (from NYC) phrased it nicely: “We’ve always adhered to the philosophy of “home is where the hearth is.” I guess we’re somewhat nomadic, never afraid to try living in a new place (though New York City is very hard to leave, with its endless things to do). We’ve always felt at home as soon as we’ve settled in a bit, cooked a meal, and slept comfortably. Whether in the mountains of Germany, working-class London, or New York City, we’ve always felt “at home” right away, wherever we lived.”
Interestingly, the varied responses all referenced home without outwardly defining it. It’s something we don’t have to specifically describe to know what someone means. (OR, you’re all excellent students and only answered the exact questions you were asked! I did not ask how you define home. Please do so in the comments if you’re so inclined.)
Based on your answers: home is where you live, where you work, where you shop, where you enjoy being. Jenny (Vermont) defines home as where her family is. Jane (Vermont) wrote that she does all of these things (live, work, sleep, play, socialize, etc.) here, and that makes it home.
Home is so many things: a particular landscape, the built environment, a feeling, who you’re with and where you feel a connection. Home is where you live your life and it is a place that defines you for a critical chapter of your life. There is not one answer suited for everyone, and there is no right or wrong explanation. It’s nice to know that different places are home to different people, because each place will be important to someone (“this place matters”).
Stay tuned for Thoughts about Home: Part Two, which will share more readers’ thoughts on how to make a place home (what changes do we make, what matters to us).
Each year the Governor of Vermont hosts the lighting of the Christmas tree, which sits on the cascading granite steps of the Vermont State House. Everyone is invited to hear Christmas carols by schoolchildren, listen to a few words by the Governor and then enjoy the decorated interior of the State House with cookies and cider.
Montpelier was graced with a balmy 45 degree afternoon on December 5, 2013 and many Vermonters joined Governor Peter Shumlin. The carolers were children from Westminster, VT.
Thank you to Governor Shumlin for hosting the Christmas Tree Lighting. And to the staff (fellow preservationists) who decorated (David, Tracy, Thad and volunteers) – the State House looks even more beautiful this time of year. What a lovely way to begin the holiday season. Merry Christmas!
Looking for an excuse to head to snowy, beautiful Vermont in January? If you’re interested in historic buildings, rehabilitation of buildings, and would like to learn more about building codes and ADA, then plan on visiting Vermont in January. This workshop is a great deal, you earn AIA credits, and you’ll be much more informed about the confusing rules of accessibility. See details below.
Historic Buildings, New Accessibility Rules & Codes Training Day
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Vermont Technical College – ‘Old Schoolhouse’
- Some of the most common questions builders and designers have are about new accessibility requirements, modifying historic buildings, and in particular modifying historic buildings for greater accessibility.
- This seminar seeks to clarify Vermont’s building codes by bringing together three experts: from ADA-New England, the preservation community, and the Division of Fire Safety. Presentations and discussions will focus on case studies suggested by participants.
- All participants in the workshop will receive complimentary membership in BSA-VT.
- This course earns 6 AIA-HSW CEUs.
Upon completion of this seminar, participants will be better able to:
- understand and apply Vermont’s current Access Rules (based on the new version of ADA, 2010)
- understand Vermont’s categories of new construction and renovation, including which codes apply
- apply Chapter 43 of NFPA to existing and historic buildings
- evaluate the balance between requirements for new and existing construction, as well as accessibility, with historic structures
- discuss strategies for design/construction with building officials, owners, and other professionals.
- Kathy Gips, Director of Training, New England ADA Center
- Judy Hayward, Executive Director, Historic Windsor and Preservation Education Institute
- Bob Patterson, Deputy Director, Vermont Dept. Public Safety’s Division of Fire Safety
SUBMIT YOUR PROJECT QUESTIONS & CASE STUDIES!
Please email your questions about specific code and construction circumstances for review during the session to: Sandra Vitzthum
$60 per person includes the full day of training, continental breakfast, lunch. To sign up, please visit http://www.buildsafevt.org/
We have made arrangements to re-schedule the event to Jan 16 if necessary; the meeting will be held in Berlin VT if this happens. Final decision will be made by 8:30 am 1/14 and emailed to all participants. You can also check our website for updates.
The term “Black Friday” did not originate in reference to the consumer madness following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Historically, “Black Friday” refers to September 24, 1869, the day when the gold market crashed at the hand of Ulysses S. Grant. To his credit, he was attempting to improve the economy, but it didn’t go as planned.
“Black Friday” as a shopping day originated in the 1960s, when Philadelphia reporters described the rush of people at the stores on the day after Thanksgiving. However, even before the 1960s, this day was important to the retail industry and Christmas shoppers. According to Time magazine (A Brief History of Black Friday):
As early as the 19th century, shoppers have viewed Thanksgiving as the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, an occasion marked by celebrations and sales. Department stores in particular locked onto this marketing notion, hosting parades to launch the start of the first wave of Christmas advertisements, chief among them, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, running in New York City since 1924. The holiday spree became so important to retailers that during the Great Depression, they appealed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 to move Thanksgiving up in order to stretch out the holiday shopping season. Roosevelt obliged, moving Thanksgiving one week earlier, but didn’t announce the change until October. As a result, Americans had two Thanksgivings that year — Roosevelt’s, derisively dubbed “Franksgiving,” and the original. Because the switchover was handled so poorly, few observed it, and the change resulted in little economic boost.
Do you shop on Black Friday? Shopping is tempting sometimes because it’s easy to get caught up in the advertising. However, it’s also chaos and according to this Atlantic article, only a few items are actually the best deal. Shoppers beware! But, really, if you choose to shop on Black Friday, that’s fine. Still, can we all agree that it’s just not fair for stores to open on Thanksgiving Day when they are kicking off Black Friday? We spend all day and weeks prior telling the internet for what we are thankful and then we head out to the stores immediately after we finish the turkey and pie? It seems a bit off-kilter.
As an alternative to Black Friday, some towns and cities like Montpelier, VT have “Flannel Friday“ which encourages shoppers to wear flannel and shop at local businesses. If you wear flannel, you get a discount. In other places it’s called “Plaid Friday.” (Vermont likes to be different, of course!)
Saturday November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday, an initiative led by American Express to encourage people to shop at local businesses. Merchants, if you’re an American Express member, you’re set. Customers, if you enroll your card and then spend $10 using your American Express card, you can get $10 back from American Express. Check out the full details here and then sign up here!
Will you shop? What is your preferred day? What is your favorite local store? Share any good links below.
It’s Thanksgiving morning, and in the O’Shea household we’re busy watching the parade, drinking coffee, baking, talking, and hanging out, enjoying one of the few times per year when all of us are together. Morning sunshine in this small 1957 suburban ranch house – my childhood home – is always a loving place to be, no matter how old I am. No matter where you are – your own home or the home of friends and family, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Take time today to give thanks and count your blessings.
Last week we began talking about home (here and here), and many readers left comments discussing how they think about home. Everyone’s thoughts were interesting to read, and collectively they show the importance of home and similarities between us all. Check tomorrow for more.
Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you, all, for being a part of the Preservation in Pink world and a part of my life. I’m grateful to live in such a wonderful time and to know, whether in “real life” or social media life, all of you.
Previous Thanksgiving Day posts:
I’d love to be traveling home by train this Thanksgiving, but the Vermont to New York trains only run south in the morning. While I love to drive, the train is a great way to travel, too. How are you traveling home, if you are?