A Weekly Column

By Joseph Walker



Every year about this time the builders and mortgage companies in our area sponsor what they call a Parade of Homes. This is not a parade in the traditional sense. They don't put a bunch of houses on floats and march them up and down the street. Rather, people march from house to house to look at the latest and greatest in home styles, designs and other assorted goodies.

This is one of Anita's favorite things to do. She says she likes to get ideas for decorating our house, or for the house we will one day build. She loves to dream about that house. That's probably why we call it "the dream house." She's got it all planned, right down to the last screw in the last piece of drywall. The only thing she hasn't figured out yet is how to get the money to pay for it.

I, on the other hand, enjoy the Parade of Homes for another reason: if I'm good and don't whine too much while Anita drags me from house to house to house, she lets me pick out which fast food restaurant we go to for dinner. This year, I even learned a few things while dutifully -- and non-whiningly -- marching in the Parade:

mauve is out, sage is in (I am saddened by this, not because I have an affinity for mauve, but because I have finally figured out what color mauve actually is; sage, on the other hand, is . . . well, it's not mauve)

there is no way to delicately describe the use and function of a bidet to an inquisitive 7-year- old boy (we finally settled on "it's a little sink to spit in" -- this lie will, of course, be the one bit of instruction from his youth that he will actually remember, and it will probably lead to an international incident 50 years from now when he is ambassador to France; with any luck, I'll be dead by then)

believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much house (especially if the predominant decorative color in said house is red)

every house should have the following cool stuff built right in: a spiral slide, a bathroom magazine rack, an aquarium wall, a lap pool, a vacuum and a home theater system larger than the one at the local multi-plex

no matter how big or fancy or fully loaded the house is, there's still no place like home.

This last point became clear to me as we returned home from a full day of parading through houses. We had seen some lovely places, including one that . . . well, what's the next level beyond a dream house? A compulsive obsession house? These were great houses, filled with incredible furniture and enhanced with magnificent landscaping. And yet as we pulled into the driveway of our cute little house, with its well-worn carpet, too-small kitchen, leaky plumbing and not-quite-green- not-quite-brown (hey, it's sage!) lawn, I knew I was where I belong, and I was glad to be home.

Few concepts are so sweetly significant to humans as the concept of home. Whether we live in a showplace or a shanty, our home is at the heart of our most profound experiences, good and bad. As children, we are shaped and molded in the home, and then sent out to build homes of our own. As parents, we try to make a good home for our children, knowing perfectly well that it will never be good enough, or strong enough, or safe enough, or secure enough. We build the best home we can -- physically, spiritually, emotionally -- we furnish it with love and then we pray that God will make up the difference. Our homes are therefore sanctified by our work, our love, our tears and our prayers. That's what makes it the most sacred place on earth.

With or without the parade.

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--- (c) Joseph Walker



Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and