By Deborah Kearns, RE/MAX Senior Editor, Corporate Communications

After a month of negotiations, last-minute closing hurdles, a roof replacement in the dead of winter and other adventures, we finally closed the sale on our old home – and our new one – all in time for the holidays.

At the closing table for our old home, we sat across from a family of first-time homebuyers who were clearly excited to make new memories in a new home. We exchanged friendly banter. We told them about that pesky humidifier control switch in the basement and shared insights about the neighborhood. All the while, though, my thoughts were on our new dream home.

When our lender handed us a stack of notecards with a picture of our new home on the front, with its beautiful brick exterior and the plentiful, cheery windows, I felt a sense of pride mixed with anxiety. We really did it!

Almost two weeks after getting our new keys, boxes are still pleading with us to unpack them, and smiling faces stare at me from photo frames that need to be put on display. Our to-do list is longer than we expected, but we’re slowly making our way through it and checking off items. 

In the moment I was unpacking the gleaming crystal stemware and trinkets that will go into my late mother’s china cabinet, I became overwhelmed as I thought back to my childhood. My mom was a single mother of two who worked two, sometimes three, jobs to provide the roof over our heads, the food on the table and as normal an upbringing as possible after my father passed away.

She poured a lot of time and effort into making our home comfortable. I never understood her obsession with perfecting the house; after all, it was just walls and plaster, right? But as I stood in my new formal dining room and handled those precious memories encased in bubble wrap that are now mine to treasure, it dawned on me that the home my mother created was a labor of love. And because she did that, it was a safe place. A place where I felt I belonged.

I look around my new home and I don’t think about furniture or the electronics or the square footage. I look around and see memories waiting to be created.

I realize now what I failed to appreciate when I was younger: Home is the place where a family plants its roots and grows before life takes us all in different directions. Because no matter where you go or what you do in life, memories and feelings of your home stay with you forever.