Tag Archives: joy

The Happy House: A Gift I Didn’t Think I Deserved


Several years ago, after too many hard winters spent shoveling too much snow in Western New York, Hubby decided to look into purchasing a vacation home somewhere more south. We made an offer on a foreclosure property and figured we’d have an answer within a few weeks.

But months passed and as the papers changed hands for the fourth time, someone suggested we consider building a new house.

I was horrified. Why would we build when there was so much real estate available?

I insisted we dig in our heels and wait.

In reality, I needed time to adjust to the idea.

Growing up, I knew people whose parents owned second homes. They were rich kids who were not always nice. My brother and I were raised in a modest home in a neighborhood where no one had vacation houses. I grew up with the implicit understanding that people with multiple mailing addresses were frivolous, obnoxious and ostentatious. I internalized this message.

To my very core.

I was okay with waiting to find another place.

Forever, if that was what it took.

When the bank accepted our offer, Hubby hopped on a plane to inspect the home that we had seen eighteen months prior.

Since it had been unoccupied for quite some time, the house had become a bit of a fixer-upper.


Maybe it wasn’t this bad, but it was pretty bad.

Bushes, once carefully maintained, grew wild and now covered the windows. The exterior required fresh paint. The roof needed to be replaced; the same for the air-conditioning unit. Oh, and the carpet in the master bedroom needed to go.

Because there was bat guano in there, you guys.

From 1250 miles away, Hubby called to tell me he was killing our offer.

Oh well, I thought as I wiped down the kitchen table with a paper towel. Que sera sera.

“I’m going to check out lots.”

“Lots of what?” I asked absently, paying slightly more attention to a sticky area on the table than my husband on the other end of the line.

“You know, to build on.”

I balled up the paper towel in my hands and sat down on the floor crisscross applesauce.

It had been hard enough for me to consider buying a second house, but I could justify it (somehow) if it was a foreclosure property. If the house was in foreclosure, I reasoned, we would be helping to revive a blighted neighborhood.

Building a second house seemed crazy.

But my husband fell in love with a sandy spot and took a leap of faith.

IMG956107As the foundation was poured, we promised to keep things on the down-low.

And we were doing great until Hubby told his friends about our secret project.

That’s when people started  asking questions that made me uncomfortable. I felt invisible stabby fingers pointing at me, accusing me of being “mean” or “snobby.”

Many months ago, I read Mary Ballice Nelligan’s post Hiding In Plain Sightwhere she explores her aversion to receiving expensive gifts. She wrote:

“Whenever I get a gift, especially one I’ve wanted and will treasure, the critical voices-in-my-head work overtime to ensure I don’t overdose on joy. While some people flaunt their gifts or humbly receive them, my first reaction is to hide. And withhold.”

Yes! I thought! That’s it exactly. That’s why I haven’t been telling anyone about the house.

Because the message screaming in my head was: “With all the people struggling in the world, who am I to get a new house? A second house? I don’t deserve it.”

And yet.

Owning a second home somewhere warm has been my husband’s dream for a long time. He has worked hard for decades. Together, we have saved to make his dream a reality.

And guess what?

The three of us just spent some time in the Happy House, and I want to be able to write about our adventures there without feeling ashamed.

As Mary said:

“Withholding good news or bad stunts my ability to connect and feel intimate with another human being.”

You have seen me at my lowest: when my computer crashed and I lost everything. You have read about my darkest sorrows.

So today I am sharing a bit of my joy with you.

I hope you will not think of me as being a braggart. I still squirm a little, feeling that having this Happy House is inappropriate, somehow. But I am proud of my husband for dreaming big and working to make his dream a reality. He inspires me to continue to write hard so one day I create something worthy for my readers. {That is my dream.} And I hope you are encouraged to believe that if you work hard, it is possible to achieve the results you desire. Oh, and if someone invites you to share their greatest happiness with you? For goodness sakes, enjoy it. Without shame.

Today, I ask you to share something you feel really good about. Go ahead. You have my permission. I’d love to hear about your joy.

tweet me @rasjacobson

Happy New Year Everyone!

May you all have a wonderful evening!

Thank you for all your support this year!

See you in 2012!

Can you guess which freak person I am?