Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It’ll be our seventh Thanksgiving in our house. The house Matt bought when he was 23, right before we got married. I remember when we moved in, the plan was that we’d live in the house for five years and then find our forever home. Or at least a house that was nicer.
As I sit here, pregnant with our third child, preparing to host our seventh Thanksgiving, we are no closer to moving than we were when we first moved in. There are no prospective houses on the market, and there hasn’t been a truly viable house for us since we started seriously looking over year and a half ago. But the fact remains: our house is too small. We need a new home. Max doesn’t have a room so his crib has always been squeezed into our bedroom. This third baby won’t have a room or even its own crib. It’ll share a bedroom with its brother, mom, and dad, until we figure out a way for Max and JR to share a bed so that the baby can have Max’s crib. We have only a quarter of an acre of land that currently houses a monstrous sawmill. Possibly the largest, handmade sawmill ever to be built to date. And it is sitting in our driveway. The amount of wood and slabs on our land is enviable to any woodworker. The basement is cluttered with piles of drying wood that the boys are now masters of maneuvering around. Our house is more than a little crammed.
But there is a coziness to a small home. No matter where you are in the house, you can hear children laughing (or crying because toddlers). I can easily cook dinner in the kitchen while actively watching the boys play in the tv room. On weekends, Matt and I cuddle in bed while the boys bounce around the house and we can always hear where they are. And when there’s an argument, you can only avoid the person for so long. There just isn’t enough space to hide out. So much has happened in our small, little home that could not be duplicated in this huge, Victorian dream home I am looking for.
The sense of home is such a strong, innate feeling. And while there are aspects of our home that I am honestly ashamed of, it’s our home. And that is enough. It is enough.
Certain meals evoke that same sense of home. If you live in Minnesota, tater tot hot dish is likely that meal. This is the authentic, Minnesota meal. When it is cold outside and you need comfort food, you eat tater tot hot dish. It’s the meal you bring to neighbors and friends when a loved one has passed or a new baby has arrived. It’s the meal grandmothers make for the big family get togethers. It’s the meal you make when it’s been a long week and you just want something that is easy and tastes so gosh darn good. It is not entirely healthy. It’s certainly not pretty looking. But it is reliable. It’s safe. It’s so so delicious. It’s the quintessential Minnesota meal that reminds you of the safety of home.