By Suzanne Anarde, RCAC CEO

Suzannes grandparent's homestead in La Plata, NM.
My grandparent’s homestead in La Plata, New Mexico. My grandfather was born in this house in 1915. He never lived anywhere else!

It is interesting to reflect on the phrase “home for the holidays…” regardless of the cultural holidays you and yours might celebrate. Holidays are always better when celebrated at home. What does home mean to you? It can have so many meanings, depending on your perspective or the context where you insert the word home. It can depict a geographic location, bricks and mortar building, or an emotional connection to another individual or to a group. It may be physical—an embrace or in being in proximity to loved ones.

As I think back on my childhood and the diverse places I called home, it is intriguing to think through the diversity of geography, physical structures and emotional connections. My most frequent vision when I think of home during my childhood is anywhere my maternal grandparents were, be it on their New Mexico ranch, home, or summers spent at the Colorado ranch, sleeping in a cabin. Wherever they were was home to me. My physical homes ranged from living in an apartment in the back of a trading post near Chaco Canyon, to a trailer house (a true trailer house—pre-1976, metal siding, single pane windows, flat room and no foundation) behind another trading post near Huerfano, both in New Mexico. It also includes travel trailers, more than once; acreage and properties with horse facilities much more habitable than the homes I lived in; ranches with no electricity or cell phone service, accessible by miles and miles of dirt roads and serviced by a party line telephone; an old Victorian “money pit” that I renovated and lived in for 30 years while raising my children; to now residing (most of the time!) in “town” aka Sacramento, my first non-rural living experience.

What I learned over the years is that “home” for me is critical to my emotional and mental well-being—just as much now as it was when I was a child. While many times home is being with my loved ones, regardless of what zip code we might be in, but having a physical home is also essential. The country song, “The House that Built Me” resonates!

I often say that the Mutual Self Help Housing program is my favorite rural program. I love it so much because the Self Help Housing movement, program, endeavor really epitomizes the importance home has to all of us. My admiration and respect for the individuals and families who commit their time, heart, body and souls to the process is boundless. I also salute those who support the process of building, attaining a mortgage and counseling for folks as they tackle the hard decisions they must make along the way. Sometimes we become clinical when talking about the Self Help program–wealth building through sweat equity, increasing property values and housing supplies, appraisals–but at the end of the day, this program is so much more. Home is a safe place.

  • Home is where we go to heal.
  • Home is where we are loved and give love.
  • Home is where we rest and recharge.
  • Home is where we find peace.
  • Home is where our hope is restored.

And each of you make it happen! My sincere holiday wish is that you find yourself home for the holidays, wherever and whatever that looks like for you. May 2022 fulfill our dreams and be filled with an abundance of blessings for you and yours.