When I was a little girl, my sister and I played house all day, every day. We would build our play pretend houses everywhere we went.

I remember days when Dad would come from work and stop in shock at the mess Shoshanna and I had made in the sunroom. We would take every book, chair, cushion, cardboard, or blanket that Mom would let us use and build ourselves a fancy home.

One time we found a pile of old flowers the graveyard keeper had tossed over the fence onto our farm. In great excitement, we took them to our yard and stuck them into the ground to create flower walls for our house. We thought it was so wonderful. We ran to find Dad and Mom so they could come and see our wonderful new house. With great pleasure and pride we showed it off. Like the fine parents they are, they smiled and sat at a makeshift table in our magnificent flower kitchen room and pretended to eat with us.

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I look back to my childhood and realize that when my parents saw the plastic flowers all over the front lawn they must have been thinking, “Oh, no! What a mess!” But as a child I never had a clue that our flower playhouse was anything but beautiful. Their smart little girls only filled their hearts with gladness.

The first year of my marriage I lived in a magical world of making a real house become a special home. A pleasure and pride very akin to what I knew as a child daily filled my heart. When Dad and Mom came over to visit, I fed them real food at a real table, and it was so much fun.

Last night my good husband brought home some short pieces of wood from his job. My two little girls found it, and right now, as I am writing this, both are outside gleefully making a new playhouse with the small pieces of wood and some fake flowers left over from a party. When they are finished making their playhouse, like my mother before me, I will go out and sit with them in their kitchen and pretend to eat dirt cake. And someday, when my daughters are married, with the same pride that they once fed me dirt cake they will feed me fine foods at their real table. They will, as I have done, reflect back to the glorious days of their childhood, remembering that Mama took time to play pretend with them.

—Shalom (Pearl) Brand