As real estate sales slow for holidays, it's a good time to remember what makes a house a home

Unless you are one of the few people who need to buy or sell a house during the holidays, you tend to forget about the real estate market and think instead about things that are more important. With Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas almost here, let's remember we want to create a home, not just a house.

Creating the distinction will take a little bit of effort, but it is something only you can do. When your children are grown, will they really care or even remember how much the home grew in value? Will they remember that you sold the house for more than a similar one in your neighborhood? Worse yet, will they only remember that you were too busy for them? Ask any adult about his or her childhood, and you probably won't hear those types of real estate market comments.

We hear these most touching reminiscences when helping adult children sell their parents' home. They often recall family times — cooking with Dad, gardening with Mom and sharing a bedroom with siblings. Their memories were not of 10-foot ceilings or expansive square footage. Perhaps this explains a twinge of concern this time of year, as we wonder what kind of family memories we are creating for our loved ones.

So what can we do this year to make a difference? First, talk to your family about what you can do together to make this a home where everyone creates positive and lasting memories. Involve everyone, even the smallest.

Let children help string lights outside or help decorate inside. Let them select and wrap a couple of presents for a local community charity. Volunteer with them at a local charity event. Perhaps you can even collect canned goods from around the neighborhood to donate in the name of your subdivision.

If just one part of the event depends on them, it can start a tradition that will give them a lifetime of memories and something they can carry on with their family and friends after you are gone.

Meal preparation is another way to involve family. Sometimes we focus too much on just getting to the event. Remember, even the smallest process creates a memory. If the children are old enough to climb into a chair, let them become part of this important ritual. Children can contribute in simple ways such as dumping ingredients into bowl or breaking up salad greens.

As they get older, they can be responsible for working around knives or the stove. Perhaps they will take on preparation of one of the family favorite foods as their own. Then at the dinner table acknowledge everyone's part in creating something to enjoy.

You can also take it one step further by thinking of friends who lack close family support or need a little extra this year. The holidays are the perfect excuse to call and invite them over. A shared meal doesn't have to be elaborate; in fact, share the preparation with others instead of doing everything yourself.

During the rest of the year we get so focused on just getting through each day that weeks turn to months and we never get around to making a meaningful connection. More importantly, with the passing of family and friends this year it has reminded us that life is short, and events unexpected. The worst memory to create is regret.

Barbara Ramsey

Barbara Ramsey is a local associate broker specializing in residential real estate. She can be reached at