2016 is the Year of the Hearth.

We’ve been in this house – my grandmother’s house – since 2001. We rented from my parents for over ten years, covering their mortgage and insurance, thinking we would head further north to Madison, Wisconsin, sometime “in the future.”

That future never materialized, and I bought the house and property in 2014. In all that time, we have done a little bit to improve our surroundings. We painted the dining room, where the paint was peeling so badly that chips would land in our food, and the upstairs bathroom, where humidity caused too many issues. We had fans installed in the bathroom and raised bed gardens installed in the side lot. We replaced the garage doors, and – while she still owned the home – mom replaced a few of the worst windows and the leaking furnace.

That said, it’s been far too little. This home has never felt like mine. It’s time to address that.

It’s a funny bit of mental chemistry that “home” has always been somewhere else for me. When I was in college, “home” was campus when I was with my parents, and my parents’ house when I was on campus. When I had an apartment in the city, the same was true. Even when we moved here, it felt temporary and slightly unreal.

Another funny bit of mental chemistry: I’m generally okay with the unreal.

Now, though, we’re both in a similar mindset. We’re tired of the stenciled grape leaves and Scandinavian white walls left behind by my mother. We’re tired of the cheap plastic blinds, the lack of fabrics on the windows to keep us from the cold, the scuff-marks on the stairs. I’m tired of dust, finally tired enough to do something about it. I’m tired of being slightly ashamed when new friends pop their heads in.

So the Year of the Hearth begins. Time, money, energy – all three are being bent in the service of Hestia.

Hearth encompasses more than home, though. It’s the landscaping and maintenance of all my property, not just the little patch in which we sit and garden. We never use the front lawn or door, and I’m afraid they’ve both gone to rot. The back property is torn up by voles, against whom I have nothing but whose tunnels have to go.

Property besides land? Oh, yes. The cars, Bru-Girl and Bealzebuddy, fall under the Year of the Hearth. Better and more routine care, along with better (if fewer) accessories and accoutrements. My study’s been a fright, with untouched books and those I’ll never read again waiting to be sorted, loved, cared for.

Aside from property, there is pride in feeling. I’ve taught myself to cook well enough now that it’s time for more routine entertaining, something I can’t do in the current surroundings. I want the delighted laughter of friends and family to be the finest decoration the new year brings to my hearth.

These aren’t resolutions. They’re passions that have been banked too long, smoldering under excuses, diversions, insecurities and other such ashes. I’m glad to blow the dust from them, and I long to start the home fires burning.