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  • Writer's pictureJim Martin

Home for Christmas?

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

For those keeping score, here's where we are at:

  • All our stuff is in a 26' U-Haul parked (and snowed in) in New Hampshire.

  • We are temporarily riding out the Nor'Easter at the lovely Green River Bridge Inn (which has no power because of the storm. You can read that part of the story here).

  • The closing on our new house is still up in the air and we have not heard a single word from the real estate team for two days.

  • It's December 16th, and within days our kids begin arriving at our house to celebrate Christmas.

  • We do not currently have a house.

If you read my last post, you'll know that over the course of a lovely evening of wine, charcuterie, and conversation around the woodstove, we learned that Innkeeper Bob grew up in the same town as my brother BOB! (You can read more about BOB! and why his name is spelled that way here). And Bob still owned a house there which just happened to be empty. Bob generously offered us his home should our closing fall through.

That wonderful offer was a comfort for sure, but the thought of unpacking all of our stuff into a short-term home was somewhat unsavory. We were still hopeful that we could squeeze in a pre-Christmas closing on the Vermont house.

We said goodbye to Bob and Lee promising to visit the inn again soon regardless of any other home(s) we may or may not own. We then headed to Burlington, Vermont to stay with our good friends Siersha and Jason. On the drive, once I had cell reception again, I sent a very carefully worded email to our missing-in-action real estate team. I requested an 8:00 am Zoom call with the realtor, the mortgage broker, and the lawyer. We needed all the information we could get in order to make the best decision we possibly could.

Upon arriving at Siersha and Jason's, I immediately sat down and wrote a review for the Green River Bridge Inn's website. I felt it was the least I could do given Bob and Lee's extraordinary kindness. (You can read the review in my last post.)

The next morning at 8:00 am sharp, the real estate team showed up for the call. I'll spare you the details, but the news was not good. The lawyer was now saying that the sellers would not be ready to close until December 28th, if then.

It was time to call Bob.

Jim: Hey Bob, so, about that house of yours...

Bob: Do you need it?

Jim: I think so.

Bob: I'm sorry to hear that, Jim. I can meet you there tomorrow to give you the key and show you around.

Seriously, that's the kind of guy Bob is. No hesitation, just kindness.

We spent a final night with our Burlington friends, which was a lovely respite. In the morning, we coffeed up, packed up the car and headed first to that U-Haul lot in New Hampshire to pick up the truck with all our stuff. Oh, and have I mentioned we've had our cat Beauregard with us this whole time? He's been handling all of this quite well.

Back in New Hampshire it took some doing to dig the truck out of the snow, but we managed it. And soon our little convoy was headed back to Massachusetts, again. We met Bob and Lee at their house in Holliston. In yet another set of strange coincidences, the house turned out to be the exact same footprint and layout as the house we had just sold in Virginia--and it was only a 10 minute walk from my brother BOB!'s house. We felt strangely at home in this new place!

We talked through the particulars and signed a simple open-ended rental agreement, and so, it came to pass that on December 20th, we moved into Bob's house.

Through U-Haul we hired a small crew to unpack the truck. They were amazing. We needed to sort everything carefully. We wanted as much to stay in the garage as possible, but we actually needed to unpack enough of our stuff so that we could host our kids for about a week. We unpacked the living room, three bedrooms, enough stuff for a family room, and of course, the kitchen. Because we were going to cook. We are not barbarians.

My brother BOB! and his wife Sharon are not barbarians either. That night they showed up with a warm home-cooked meal and grocery bags full of our favorite foods to stock the cabinets. Their friend Jeanne stopped by and dropped off a little potted Christmas tree because she is thoughtful and kind and couldn't bear the idea of us having to spend Christmas this way.

As I write this, it sounds like we were making the best of a difficult situation. But that's not what it felt like. We managed to unpack some of our favorite Christmas things to compliment Jean's tree. The kids started showing up over the next couple of days. And in the end we had an absolutely delightful Christmas!

On the 23rd, we walked over to Bob and Sharon's and went caroling around the neighborhood with a group of their friends. Despite the rain, it was joyous.

Bob's house turned out to be a wonderful gift. We were able to host quite a crowd!

And then there was the food. For Christmas dinner, making use of Judy's excellent tutelage, we served up a delicious Roast Beast.

And as it turned out, there was yet one more Christmas miracle in store. For indeed, upon the 28th of December, we did finally close on the Vermont house! And so, leaving everything and everyone in Holliston for a hot second, we headed north, signed the paperwork and took possession.

Jenna is looking lovely in this photo. I, however, am a little worse for the wear. But this is our new back yard!

Then it was back to Holliston to prepare for the annual Martin New Year's Eve bash. This is a party that, over the years, regardless of where we were living, we have worked hard not to miss. It's tradition that everyone does all they can to show up. There are some other traditional things that always show up as well. Things we've come to love over the years, from pump dip, to crack salad, to Spanish tortilla, to craft beer. It's a good time. Because we were all set up in the kitchen at Bob's house, I was able to contribute the Spanish tortilla.

And just like Judy had taught me, I used the leftover tenderloin to make some Beef Wellington Bite appetizers. Deadly.

The party was amazing, just as expected. And it was so wonderful to be attending as a local, as a New Englander again at long last. We crashed that night, woke up early on January first, saw the kids off on their various journeys home, and began the process of packing up the Holliston house for the move to Vermont.

If you want to read on, here's how that went!

But for now, I'll end this post with one final gift prompted by the confluence of two things in this post: singing, and roast beast. The caroling I mentioned above is only a very small part of the history of music and song in my family. I've written posts about my brother BOB! and our history of singing barbershop together. Here's the story of how that came to be: On Pizza and Squimbo Pie (and Barbershop Harmony). And here's the story of my favorite summer job ever when our barbershop quartet was hired to sing at an amusement park for the summer. On Universal Joints and Amusement Parks.

That's just some of the background--the history if you will. The gift is this video BOB!, Sharon, and I made back in 2020 when we were all on lockdown. This was all Sharon's idea. Her excellent line about it was, "If 2020 were a Christmas Carol..." Enjoy.

And I promise, we'll get back to the tiny house soon... in the next post in fact.

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