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  • Kristan Higgins

Home, sweet home

Updated: May 3, 2022


McIrish with an axe at work.

This weekend, we went to a furniture/home furnishings store. Those places always make me both happy and sweaty. We didn’t need anything, in particular, thank God, but we joked around, saying this is what we’d buy for the house on the water (we don’t own a house on the water unless you count the big puddle that forms every time it rains).


My great-grandfather immigrated from Hungary.

I wandered through the store, fondling statues of hedgehogs and pretty light fixtures, sitting in leather chairs, and imagining my cat shredding it to bits. I’m not good at home décor, really. Most of the cool stuff in our house is something McIrish found or had before we got married. I don’t have a lot. I seize up when it comes to buying things. I love things in stores, but then I think, “Do I need that? Will I love it at home, or will it just sit there?”


My kids!

The best parts of my decorating plan are the photos—the kids, of course, baby pictures to today. The shot of Princess smooching Dearest’s cheek in the flower garden. The day they smooshed chocolate cookie dough on their teeth to look toothless. The two of them in the snow, both in blue snowsuits, their cheeks pink with the cold, their famous eyelashes. There are photos of McIrish and me—us on the ferry to Ellis Island to see where our ancestors landed. A photo taken for our 20th anniversary, sitting on a rock wall he built.

My grandparents at their 50th anniversary surprise party.

My grandparents at their 50th anniversary surprise party.

There are photos of my parents, that gorgeous couple. My grandparents and great-grandparents, including one from 1937, the day my great-grandfather went to Washington DC and became a United States citizen. All my nieces and nephews. My sister on her wedding day. A different set of great-grandparents on their wedding day, standing stiffly, their expressions grim, though they would go on to have a long and happy marriage. McIrish in the line of duty, chopping a ventilation hole in the roof of a burning building. Take away all the photos, and I think my house would still be cheerful and welcoming. But it would be only a house. The family is what makes it home.


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