29: Payoff Party

29: Payoff Party

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Payoff Party

There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home.

~Kenny Guinn

“Oh my gosh,” said my friend Anna Marie, “I’ve never known anyone who actually paid off the mortgage on their house.”

“It took a bit of doing,” I said. “But I was determined. By putting a little extra on the principal every single month, I was able to shave off years of payments.”

“So what are you going to do to celebrate?” she asked.

“Ever hear of a mortgage burning party?”

“I have to admit,” she said, “I didn’t know there was such a thing.”

“Then I’ll teach you all about it,” I replied, “because I’m going to need some help.”

So Anna Marie helped me design, address, and mail the party invitations. We ordered a large sheet cake with “Home Sweet Home” written on it in frosting. Then we rolled the big steel-drum burning barrel to the center of the front yard.

“You’re actually going to burn something at the party?” she asked.

“Oh, absolutely!” I exclaimed. “I printed off numerous copies of the amortization schedule and you and I are going to make a big basket of paper scrolls tied with pretty ribbons. The party guests will get to throw a scroll into the fire while we say blessings for the home.”

“Terrific idea! Then everyone has a chance to participate.”

On the day of the party, Anna Marie and I inflated one colorful helium balloon for every thousand dollars the house cost. I kept that particular information to myself, privately enjoying the symbolism. Then we tied them to the back of every chair throughout the house.

The guests began arriving just as the sun was going down. Some of my friends arrived wearing T-shirts that looked like tuxedos and others wore sequined dresses with tennis shoes or had feather boas draped from their shoulders. My vote for best outfit went to a guy dressed in full-fledged volunteer firefighter’s gear.

“You didn’t tell me it was a costume party,” said Anna Marie, who wore a simple sweater and slacks outfit.

“It isn’t,” I told her. “I have very creative friends.”

And those friends got right into the spirit of things, happily eating cake and drinking champagne, tossing the amortization scrolls into the burn barrel, dancing on the lawn and cheering loudly until the wee hours of the morning. I was glad my nearest neighbors were also in attendance.

The next day, I discovered a large piece of cake in the refrigerator, wrapped carefully in cellophane. It was the piece with the picture of my house on it, cut from the very center of the sheet cake. A Post-it note proclaimed, “It’s all yours!”

I saved that piece for my next birthday, invited Anna Marie to join me, and we celebrated homeownership all over again. Home Sweet Home, indeed.

~Jan Bono

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