My husband and I kicked off our married life with a light-hearted disagreement about how to decorate our first home. I had a decorating plan. He had a shot glass collection. My decorating plan did not include his shot glass collection.
Barely 20-year-old us had a fun little banter going about why this collection should or should not hang on the living room wall, until I realized that we weren’t joking, and we were both sort of, kind of, actually mad about that whole thing.
I held the protest line and he eventually retreated. I was happy enough to pretend that we were both happy with that arrangement. The shot glasses never hung in the living room. Years passed. The shot glasses gathered dust in an old shoe box and eventually disappeared somewhere along the way (I hope).
Fast forward 19 years.
When my husband left for a big deer hunting trip last fall, I lovingly agreed that if he got a trophy buck that he should take it to the taxidermist. Then my phone rang only hours after the hunting trip began.
Me: Hey, how’s it going?
Husband: I just shot a 21 point.
Me: Shut up.
Husband: No, really!
Me: Shut up, that’s not even a real thing.
Daughter: (in the background) You’re not supposed to say shut up. That’s a bad word.
Husband: Seriously. I’m sending you a picture right now.
Me: Oh my. Yep, that’s a big one. I’m so happy for you!
Husband: I’ll bring the meat home for processing, but can I go ahead and take the head to the taxidermist?
Me: Mmm hmm.
In the following months, over bowls of hearty chili and perfectly seasoned jerky, we engaged in playful banter about where this big ol’ buck would hang in our house. We laughed and laughed and laughed. He proudly pointed out a spot on the living room wall and I kindly suggested how great it would look in the garage. We negotiated where it would hang while I imagined Norman Bates stuffing this giant deer’s head in his basement.
Last month when the taxidermist called to say it was ready, the banter intensified, and more than once I had to stop and ask if we were still joking. My husband is good at a lot of things, but none more so than acting like he’s serious about something when he’s only razzing me. So, you can understand my uncertainty.
I mulled it over and thought endlessly about my beautiful living room and the “This Is Our Happy Place” sign that hung so beautifully on the west wall and then I realized what a load of crap that sign would be if I insisted that it stay right where it was. OUR. This is OUR happy place. Both of us. I could stand my decorating ground, but I’d have to cross out the “our” and replace it with “my”.
Y’all, I don’t live here alone, and my living room décor is not what makes this house a home. My family makes this house a home. Our home.
I quietly decided that no matter how brutish this stuffed beast might be, it would hang on the wall of our living room if that would make my husband happy. On our way to pick up the mount, I told my husband how beautiful it would look on the west wall and he nearly drove off the road in surprise. Then he confessed that he had decided not to push the matter and that it could hang wherever I would like it to.
Look at us, y'all, being all mature and stuff.
Had he been exaggerating just to give me a hard time? Yes. Did he really want this deer head in our living room? Also, yes.
You guys, can you imagine my surprise when the taxidermist that greeted us at the counter was not Norman Bates? Can you imagine my surprise when the deer mount was actually quite beautiful and elegant? Can you imagine my surprise when our preschool daughter thought it was the coolest thing ever and made a solid case for hanging it in her own room?
That “This Is Our Happy Place” sign? It is laying on the dining room table for now because my husband’s deer mount now hangs on the west wall of our living room. I sort of like it, but I don’t know if I would admit if I didn’t because my husband lives here, too, and this is OUR happy place. I think we’re getting better at this married thing and with any luck our daughter will grow up knowing that Mom and Dad love to laugh and joke, but that most off all we love each other and that this space that we share together is OUR home.
Oh, and the trampoline in the corner? That’s because our daughter lives here, too. And the cute, old, deaf dog that couldn’t hear me calling for him to move out of my camera shot? He lives here, too. And we’re all pretty happy about it.