Went to the annual Holiday Home tour with two church friends today. The six houses were spread out for many miles so it took us four hours to do the complete tour. Afterwards, we stopped in a home decor store then had wine and appetizers at the restaurant next door.
We have a great time. We enjoy each other's company, and we also enjoy looking at the ways people not only decorate for Christmas but how their kitchens are set up, their light fixtures, etc, so we can get ideas for our own homes.
Today, though, there was one home that almost troubled me, a three year old home custom built for a fairly young family. The home was gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but it was so large it seemed, well, gratuitous. Perhaps 5000 square feet, probably larger, it had a complete outdoor kitchen/entertaining area, tennis court and pool also. After we left, one of my friends (a physician's wife) asked what I had been wondering--"What do people do to make enough money to afford that?" Not only the house, but to fund the lifestyle that goes with it; very nice furniture and lots of it, help to clean it all, an expectation to entertain, utilities, etc.
The need for a huge house is something I've never really understood. Certainly I like a nice space: a well equipped and arranged kitchen, a nice view through the window, a warm cozy living room with a fireplace. Oh, and space for my books. If I lived alone, I'd be perfectly happy in 600 ft. Taciturn and I presently live in a larger house than I would like; I feel like a hypocrite. Whenever we move, I've told T we have to cut the square footage by at least 30%. I do not wish to be enslaved by the upkeep of a home anymore than I have to be. Then there is the question of how large a carbon footprint one wants to leave.
What is the purpose of a house, anyway? How do each of us define what purpose our house serves? Is it a statement of arrival? Is it a sanctuary away from the world or is it a place in which to invite the world? Is it simply a place to store one's stuff, as George Carlin said? Is it a place to show off? Is it the place where a person can be their truest self? Or is it a place to be phony? In deciding what kind of a house to have, I imagine questions like those at least hover in the background.