A Parable for a New Year

Once there was a couple who built a house. This couple planned to have a large family, and so they worked hard to build a house that would be able to fit all their children. They were a favorite among their neighbors, who were so drawn to the natural grace and ease of the couple that they even pitched in to help here and there to build the house. Amazingly, when the house was complete, the woman found that she was expecting her first of six children. Over the years, the family filled all the rooms in the house and then some. There were frequently friends and extended family in the home, telling stories by the fireplace, playing ball in the yard,  fixing wonderful meals in the kitchen, and singing songs together in the music room. The family felt very blessed that they had seemingly achieved all the goals the young couple had made years ago.
When it came time for the eldest child to move out and go to college, the couple hoped that he’d choose the college right across the street and stay close to home, but that didn’t happen. And when time came for the child to graduate he let the family know that he planned to make his life in another town. The other siblings followed suit, except for one. Years later, the couple found that their large house they had built to be occupied by 8 people was now only sheltering the couple and one of the children, who had chosen to stick around and see to things while she ran her small business online. Every now and then the whole family would return to the house for this or that celebration, but by and large the large beautiful home was unoccupied-with family anyway.
Along the way, the family had always been hospitable to the neighborhood-when one neighbor had a fire, the family had invited them to stay with them for a while till they were back on their feet. There were parties, social clubs, and even a spare room used to house some food supplies for the neighborhood should anyone fall on hard times. After some years, the family didn’t have much interface with these organizations. They kind of coexisted in the same space-use to the comings and goings, and glad they had the opportunity to provide more and more space, especially as the family presence dwindled.
The couple had been moderately successful in business, and had built up some savings, but year by year it became more and more obvious that the large house took a fair amount of their resources to heat and cool and otherwise maintain. The couple considered their options. They knew that many “empty nesters” chose to sell their home and downsize to something more practical to the present needs of the family. The couple thought back on the history of their family abode, and how the neighborhood had all surrounded them with shared excitement and pitched in to help. They remembered raising the walls and the thresholds. They hated to leave behind the house with all its memories-it seemed almost an impossibility from an emotional standpoint. They considered their other options-should they reinvest their time and energy in building stronger relationships with the various groups who had come to enjoy and even thrive with their hospitality? Should they sell the house to the wife’s wealthy sister so that it stayed in the family-(the sister had offered to simply let the couple keep living there, but the couple was unsure how it would go with a sibling managing some of their affairs.)  The couple knew they preferred to be making initial plans for the future instead of letting the inevitable creep up on them without giving their prospects some serious thought.  How would you advise the couple if you were a trusted friend or even a member of the family?