"The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I passed at home, in the bosom of my family." Thomas Jefferson
'Home, sweet home', the song from the Opera Clari, composed by John Howard Payne(born 1791), became an instant hit. The song conveyed the wistful longing of the composer for the humble thatched cottage that was his childhood home, before he began his wanderings. The touching lyrics and the soulful music bring tears to those who look back to the time they had a home they loved. Although it is 45 years since I left my parental home, memories of that much loved home do not fade. Even today, when I hear the song 'Home,sweet home', I travel back in time to that unforgettable home, where I received much love and acquired some values which are dear to me.
Loving parents work hard to build a home for themselves and their children. In that place the family knits its relationships and constructs its value system. Winston Churchill testified to this fact when he wrote: "There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society are created, strengthened and maintained".
What makes a home different from a house? LOVE. Love of God and one another. Where God is not present, love will be absent, because He is Love. Wise parents understand this truth and enthrone God as the unseen Head of the home. With Him at the center of family life, new meaning and purpose are found in the daily routine. Children learn of God from their parents, and find space in their hearts for Him. Parents who miss out on this vital input, do not build a strong foundation for the other inputs they give their children. At prayer time, which is built into the family schedule, the family assembles to praise and thank God for His countless mercies, and plead for His continued protection. Children who acquire this prayer-habit, carry it forward to their homes, when they start life on their own.
There are some other distinguishing characteristics of a good home:
1) Family meals: The family comes together at meal time(at least at supper time), to share experiences of the day. Children learn much at the dining table.
2) Family discussions: The family that links up through regular and warm chats, forges a closeness that grim circumstances cannot prize apart. Whether it is planning a family picnic, a change of school or a change in meal-timings, a family discussion, where all participate, binds the family with unseen bonds.
3) Family outings: Visiting relations and friends, outings to fun-spots, going to the movies, concerts and the theater - these bring the family together. Planning for these outings gives the children a thrill. As they get involved, they tap their creative urges, summon their organizing skills and learn to operate as a team.
4) Family celebrations: Birthdays, anniversaries, good grades at school, winning contests and other special occasions are reasons to celebrate. When the family remembers and celebrates these occasions, there is much shared-happiness.
5) Family entertainment: TV programs, music and games, when enjoyed as a family, keep the children from forming addicting relationships with the TV, Music System, Computer and playthings; instead they form memorable relationships with the family.
In Ohio, USA, a 17 year old watched video games for 17 hours at a stretch. When his parents objected, he shot them. His mother died and his father was seriously wounded.Deepak Chopra's words should set us thinking: "When love is replaced by an object, the result is addiction".
A home is where good values, good habits and good manners are taught and practiced.
Where honesty is never compromised, fair-play never disputed and courage never ridiculed. Where praise and gratitude are constantly expressed, apologizing and forgiving a way of life and Saint Paul's words(Ephesian 4:26):"Do not let the sun go
down on your anger", are a benchmark. And where trust in one another is silently and strongly built. With the abundance of the good-life, it is no wonder that 'you are treated best at home'.
How well a little girl of six understood this is seen in her brief exchange with a friend. Her parents and her two siblings could not locate a house to live in, at short notice, and had to stay at a hotel for a few days. "Too bad you do not have a home", her friend sympathized. Promptly, she responded: "Yes we have a home, but no house to put it in".