Home Of The Year

by : David Leonhardt

We were gathered 'round the television, where Little Lady was watching an episode of Stuart Little. The kids had entered their house for a Home Of The Year contest sponsored by some fancy magazine.

I turned to my wife with yet another one of my way-too-brilliant ideas. 'Why don't we enter the Home Of The Year contest?' I asked.

My wife looked around in horror. 'What? With this place?'

Little Lady, just over two years old, was looking for the green crayon. 'Sure,' I replied, obviously missing something. 'Why not? It's a great home.'

'This place is a mess,' my wife said in frustration, as she started slipping the videos back into their sleeves. 'What magazine would call this home of the year? Dump Monthly? Trash Can News? Oh, I know – Bad Housekeeping?'

Little Lady emptied the crayon box on the floor. 'Oh come on,' I answered. 'This is a wonderful home full of love and joy. See all the drawings taped to the wall?'

'In the Home Of The Year, there are no crayon drawings taped to the wall,' my wife explained with just a hint of patience. 'There might be an original Rembrandt or Van Gogh, or perhaps an exceptional imitation. It would be placed in an elegant frame.'

Little Lady found the green crayon. Now she needed a sheet of paper on which to draw.

'I don't know,' I hesitated. 'Rembrandt and Van Gogh don't sound very homey. I suspect you might find them in the Museum Of The Year contest.'

'Just look at this dust!' my wife cried. She blew on the top of the television set, which temporarily vanished into the haze.

Little Lady emptied her bookshelf with one fell swoop, but still could not find paper on which to draw.

'OK, so it's dusty,' I admitted. 'If we dusted more frequently, we would spend less time together and it would be less of a home.'

'The Home Of The Year contest Committee really does not care whether we spend time together,' my wife said. She headed toward the kitchen in search of iced tea, nearly tripping over a bag of clothes along the way. 'They just want to see a spotless house with all the classiest decorations.'

Who needs paper, anyway. Little Lady found a blank spot on the wall, and started applying her green crayon.

'Well, that might make a good House Of The Year, but a home is a place to live in. It needs to exude love and comfort, not cleanliness,' I said.

Apparently, I was still clueless. 'Homes of the year never exude love, and certainly not comfort,' she explained, picking up a copy of Good Housekeeping from the floor. 'They are showcases of a woman's ability to keep a house in immaculate condition with absolute precision ... despite the presence of a male creature around.'

Ouch. Little Lady gleefully switched to the red crayon. 'Well I don't know anything about keeping a house tidy, but if that's what the magazines want, why don't they call it The Janitorial Olympics?' I asked.

'I don't know. Maybe it's too hard for them to spell,' my wife replied, smiling. 'But they don't, so just get used to reality. We simply do not have even the slightest, tiniest, most minuscule hope of ever winning the Home Of The Year contest.'

By then, Little Lady had drawn three stick figures on the wall. 'My home,' she shouted, running to give Mommy a big hug.

I didn't need a magazine to tell me we already lived in the home of the year. And if the dust doesn't kill us off first, we will live there every year.