The Moments of Our Lives Should be at Our Homes

The wedding of Mark Lakeman (orange crown of flowers, at left) and Lydia Doleman (to the left of Mark) at Share-It Square in Portland, right in their neighborhood, was truly a special event.

More and more parents are throwing children’s birthdays at a jumpy house place or a kids’ gym or a public park miles away from their homes.

Most family photo sessions with professional photographers take place at a photographer’s studio or at a park miles from home.

Practically all people get married at a special wedding venue that they hardly, if ever, have visited, or will visit after the big event.

Families often have large family dinners at restaurants.

What’s wrong with our homes? Our Yards? Our neighborhoods?

Does it matter that we’re passing the most significant moments of our lives at places we don’t care about? Places we have no emotional connection to?

I believe it does. Big time.Every time you hold an event at your home, you leave some memories there. You might add a physical artifact for the event like a framed photograph or a wreath. Because you hold frequent events there, you’re always adding things or changing things to make it a great place to entertain.

In addition, memorable things happen at specific places in and around your home. You might have a memorable conversation with an uncle or aunt on the glider in the back yard. Or, the kids might play a particularly fun game of hide-and-seek among the bushes across your front yard and a couple of your neighbors’ front yards. You take photographs that capture these moments, as well as how your home looked at that particular time.

Of course, it’s entirely possible for you to do all these things at various other venues, but then these venues would be mere settings, mere backdrops. However, if you hold these events at your home, yard, or neighborhood, these memories accumulate over time to form a rich tapestry. Your home becomes one of the characters in the theater of your life.

This is particularly important for your children if they have ample time to explore their homes, yards, and neighborhoods on their own, outside of these events.

In the year+ since moving into our house in Menlo Park, California, my wife and I have made a commitment to refocusing our lives on our home, our yard, and our neighborhood. I can honestly say we’ve had the best kid birthday parties here that I’ve ever attended. Ever. We’ve also had a dozen or so big dinner parties here that have all been fabulous. Every time we have another event, it just gets better.

Because we have many of these events in our front and back yards, neighbors who haven’t even been invited drop by, making our experience even more rich. So, my Jewish M.D. neighbor and his kids have gotten to know my Chinese uncles-in-law a bit. Other neighbor kids have gotten to know my nieces and nephews from Pittsburgh.

In addition, we just had a professional photographer take photos of our family right here. The photographer initially suggested a nearby park, but with all the wonderful times we’ve had at our home, we knew that photos taken here would be much more meaningful to us.

Mark Lakeman, co-founder of the City Repair movement in Portland, Oregon, got married at the innovative community square he co-created, Share-It Square, a few years ago. Dozens of neighbors joined Lakeman and his bride for circle dancing and other festivities. By all accounts, it was a magical event.

About twenty years ago, I attended a wedding in Southern California at the cul-de-sac where the bride was born and raised. This was one of the most wonderful, memorable weddings I can remember. It engulfed the entire cul-de-sac, all front yards, and all houses there.

Why are fewer and fewer people holding the significant events of their lives at their homes and yards? Many parents don’t feel that their homes and yards are designed and furnished adequately for these events. Besides, holding an event at one of these event venues – party places, restaurants, etc. – is a lot easier because you don’t need to spend any time setting up before or cleaning up afterward.

If you’re someone who feels this way, I hope you’ll decide to invest the time and money into making your home and yard into a great venue for events. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – for instance, folding tables and chairs can be quite affordable – but it does take a fair amount of planning and forethought, at least the first time you do it.

Trust me, it’s well worth it, especially for your children.

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2 Responses to The Moments of Our Lives Should be at Our Homes

  1. mschneider says:

    I would add birthing a child to your list of events taking place outside the home. In the US less than 1% of all births take place in the home. Some would believe that birthing a child is always medical event, and yet 30% of births in the Netherlands take place at home.

    I would have readily taken advantage of hospital medical help should I have required it when having my two children. Knowing that the nearest hospital only required a 7 minute drive, I planned and successfully brought in two ten pound babies into this world with the support of a midwife and doula in my own home on my own bed surrounded by people I knew.

  2. Mike Lanza says:

    mscheider –

    Thanks for this addition. I agree – births at home can be fabulous events for the family, and happen far too rarely.