Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Longing for a House that is a Home

I think that modern society has lost out by not adopting the old type of building: those with courtyards. It wasn’t for nothing that ancient cultures often used buildings with central patios. The patio would be an ideal place to schmooze with your neighbors, share gadgets and appliances, and watch out for one another. Of course, you would need to share basic core values with the others. I could imagine a family with several married siblings living in such a place. Sisters in-law could take turns watching the toddlers in the afternoon, giving the other women a break. Grandma could easily keep up with her grandkids; she could be more involved. This would give her greater self esteem. And if an elderly parent was needing help, it would be easier to all to pitch in.
The only drawback I see is the need to avoid lashon hara (evil talk, gossip) and fights. But we need to do that in families, anyway.
But instead we all live in flung out places, and need to travel just to visit our families. And this leads to families being deprived of the most natural support group around. We live in homes carefully separated from neighbors. Even apartment dwellers often don’t know their neighbors in some societies. (In Israel, they generally do….) It seems to me a very lonely way to live.


Anonymous said...

i love courtyards! very melrose place. in phoenix we rarely know our neighbors -- it's sad. though sometimes you meet them and wish you hadn't. but the idea of community is very tempting....

RivkA with a capital A said...

When my family lived in an apartment complex in Phoenix, I did feel like we had more "communal living," mostly because we shared a pool!

Other than that, people do not "hang out" outside. It's too hot!

Belinda said...

My friend Susan, who often comments on Dave's Chewing the Fat, lives like this. She is a mother to 9 children, between the ages of 18 and 37. Three of them live at home, but at the end of their property, a daughter, husband and 5 grandsons live. It is a "compound!" They all support each other. It is wonderful. The grandchildren can run up the driveway to "Mommy's Mom's" house.

I myself am similarly blessed. My daughter and two grandchildren live downstairs in our house in a separate apartment, but we see them lots.

I love that several generations of family can live together. It is a rich and wonderful thing.

A Living Nadneyda said...

How funny... a friend and I were just discussing (and praising) the courtyard idea. In our neighborhood sometimes it feels like the street is one big courtyard, especially on summer evenings, with all the kids running / biking / skating around, and the adults chasing after the little ones and stepping in and out of each others' homes for a drink or a chat. It's a wonderful feeling.

Belinda - Sounds wonderful. What a lucky family.