When readers of my previous posts left an assortment of comments related to a “blogwarming”, I was utterly charmed. I never had thought of transferring the concept of housewarming to a blog, but I liked it immediately. It seemed appropriate, and fun. Even though pieces and paragraphs are still fighting for the best placement and a few boxes of snippets and images refuse to let themselves be unpacked, I didn’t mind surprise guests. Their greetings nudged some surprising memories into consciousness, and the memories are all pleasant.
I experienced my first housewarming when my parents built a new home for us on the edge of town, just three blocks from the football stadium and a short stroll to the Iowa cornfields. I may be mistaken in my recollection that someone wandered away from the party into the cornfields that night and had to be fetched back, but it certainly was quite a party. The fellows from my Dad’s engineering department were always ready to share a libation or two, and the fact that there was an “occasion” helped get the ladies in the mood. There was food, drink, gifts and more drink, and great good cheer.
In those days, building a new house was an accomplishment. For my father, raised in an Iowa coal mining family, surviving the depression and becoming an Industrial Engineer at the Maytag Company on the basis of knowledge and skill rather than degrees, the experience was especially sweet. He was rightfully proud of his accomplishments, and when the house was built, the community gathered around he and Mom for a night of affectionate celebration.
As the years passed, housewarmings (or dorm room-warmings, or apartment-warmings) became more common. To one degree or another, each occasion was touched by joy and gratitude, a sense of adventure and the sheer pleasure of new surroundings.
When I think about my parents’ housewarming, I also realize how important the sense of community was for them. After everything involved in building a house, after so many hours spent in the process – meeting architects, pulling permits, revising plans, dealing with cost overruns – it was unbelievably meaningful for them to have friends stop by with their gift and their presence and say, “It looks wonderful”.
And now, I am sharing in that experience. After all the solitary hours at my computer, after all of the revisions and unworkable plans and mysterious obstacles encountered while trying to create something pleasing – it has been wonderful to have someone stop by and say, “I’ll bring the covered dish, a bottle of wine, the cofffee, the cinnamon pinwheels…”
Traditional housewarming or modern blogwarming, the point is the same: life is better in community. Blogwarmings aren’t likely to overtake housewarmings in popularity any time soon. Google shows only 1,230 entries for blogwarmings, but 8,410,000 for housewarmings, so it will be a while before Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray pick up on the trend and publish recipes or lists of appropriate gifts.
But those who are part of this new world, folks who have seen old traditions revived in new and creative ways and who have helped to sustain the rituals themselves, know the truth. Human beings are meant to connect, laughter and good wishes are an appropriate response to new adventures, and gratitude for what has been walks hand in hand with joy in new possibilties.
In the old days, a familiar Irish blessing for housewarmings was:
May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.
For our new day, the old blessing still applies, even for people who have yet to meet.:
May the hard drive that connects us never crash,
And may we good companions around it never clash.