Christmas brings back memories of when we were children and those memories are usually set in the house where we grew up. My brother, Tom, wrote the following recollection of the house where our parents raised theIr seven children. 250 Mill Street is in Westwood, New Jersey, and is referred to by myself and my siblings as, simply, 250.
     When I think of “250″,  which is often,  I have only happy memories and realize how much of my adult successes stemmed from spending the first eighteen years of my life in that home. 250 provided me not only with shelter and sustenance as any house can, but more important it provided me with membership in a family. Within that group I felt loved, wanted and deserving.

     Whenever I was away from 250 I would  look forward to returning.  I was always happy to bound up the front steps after a long walk from the bus stop or returning from a movie or pizza with my grammar school friends in town . Later on, when in high school,  parking the car in the garage and walking in the back door, it was always unlocked, and Mom and Dad asleep confident that I would do the right thing and arrive home safely. At 250 there was an atmosphere of comfort and security. This was created not by the house but by those living in the house. My parents, brothers and sisters. They liked me and told me they liked me not with words but with loving acts. There was never any deep  hostility or jealousy from any of my siblings.

I noted only respect and admiration. Is it any wonder I felt I could achieve anything  as a youngster? I well realize the nurturing environment I experienced at 250 was created and continued by my Mother and Father. Somewhere in their  past it was instilled in them the value of “family” and the necessity of creating not only a safe and secure environment for one’s family, but an environment also filled with love respect and devotion. It is no accident that my brothers and sisters continue to be so close and caring about each other.

In the mid 14th century a man built a home for his family. It was the O’Dea castle in County Clare, Ireland. Built for his family, its strong walls sheltered and protected his family. The perils may have been a little different at that time but the purpose of that castle was the same. To enable his family to be safe, secure and to give them the opportunity to grow, prosper and pass to the next generation of O’Deas the traditions and values he believed in. Several generations later in County Bergen New Jersey another O’Dea built his castle for the same reasons. We all were a part of it and what a glorious experience it was.

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