By Karen Monroe
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
No matter how big our home is, there is no house big enough for extended family during the holidays. Even immediate family makes everyday living feel cramped when you gather to spend a few days (or, god forbid, weeks), together. The holidays are the ultimate test in creative cohabitation, especially in New York, where most of us live small in terms of square footage.
I have a three bedroom apartment that most of the time is just right, size-wise. Come holiday season when the kids and their friends descend upon Brooklyn, the apartment feels very small and cozy. And dirty. As much as I love this festive time at year's end, it's a lot of work.
The same goes for residential real estate: space is relative. The more room we have, the more we seem to need. The more stuff we have, the more crowded our holiday visits may seem. On the flip side, smaller spaces can be transformed into comfortable living by smartly utilizing every square foot available.
Even those who are gifted enough to masterfully create an Architectural Digest-style look in a one bedroom apartment seize up during the holiday hosting season. I'm not alone in this; house guests are great but it ruins the flow of your personal living style. This isn't an insult to our family and friends, it's just reality. We love to see them come as much as we love to see them go. The preparation, hosting, cleanup and anticipation of a repeat performance in just a few short weeks can be a bit much, if not downright exhausting.
My favorite solution to all of this: go to Hawaii for the holidays. Switch Brooklyn brownstone living for the slower, warmer pace of island time. Rent a home, or stay in a timeshare where you can still offer up your family traditions, but everyone has their own room. Even the in-laws.
All of this said, I still love the holidays and all that accompanies this time of year. My kids are lovely young adults and this Thanksgiving was one of our best as a family. Even cramped and sleeping on the sofa, everyone was considerate of each other's personal real estate. No fights broke out.
Next stop, Moishe's to transfer the harvest decoration box for the Christmas ornaments, stockings and lights. The tree will go up, and we'll all have even less space to co-exist in my Brooklyn apartment. Bring it on. There's no place like home.
On the Run
It's a mindset. Running a race, regardless of the distance, is about the last couple of miles. Getting to the finish line is relative. Like living in small spaces versus a large home, we adjust to what we are working with. I run marathons and the race really begins at mile 20. The task is to mentally convince your body that it is capable of delivering you just 6.2 more miles to the finish line. But shorter distance races have the same effect on your mind.
I ran a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Just five miles around Prospect Park and my brain was ready to be done at mile four. Nothing to do with your physical shape, it's all mind power. I was thinking about how thankful I was that it was not a 10k race where I'd have to go an additional 1.2 miles after the five I was already committed to completing. Crazy.
Again, like real estate, it's how you adjust to the situation. We make it work. Large or not so large living space, we still want our loved ones close during the holidays. Long or short distances, we still want to get to the finish line. We complete this, and prepare for next time.
Karen Monroe practices real estate at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 156 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. She lives in the neighborhood and represents buyers, sellers and renters in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Karen can be found walking her dogs and running the parks, paths, streets and bridges of Brooklyn and beyond. For feedback and all of your real estate needs, contact Karen at [email protected].