It's Veterans Day as I write this, and I have officially declared myself the winner in our four-and-a-half-month war against the moving boxes. Except for a few small cartons of books in our guest room/office, we are now officially settled and just about everything is put away.

This afternoon, as I placed the last pieces of my wife's huge teapot collection on two etagères and a mantel, I finally felt like this house that we are renting was home.

This was a tough move for my wife and me, complicated by failed deals to sell our house, a delayed closing when we finally did sell and my wife's mild heart attack in August. And, of course, the revelation that over the course of our 48-year marriage and nine moves -- three in Fairfield alone -- we had accumulated one heck of a lot of "stuff."

As the chief unpacker, I have been shocked and awed by what we didn't throw away or give away, didn't leave behind and didn't sell. I had easily made 25 trips to Goodwill over the past five months.

And we both felt embarrassed when the buyers of our Fairfield house invited us for dinner and the house was so empty. They are a young couple, but I turned to my wife as we were leaving and asked how we'd gotten get so lucky to accumulate so much junk.

Unlike the house we left, this house is smaller, laid out differently and hasn't afforded us the luxury of just spreading out. On the contrary, getting settled here has required strategy, and portions of the process have been very daunting for my wife, who is still recovering from her coronary.

Where our den in the other house was our safe haven and the spot for my wife's various nests, the only room so suited now is our great room, which is huge but not easy to arrange. It's so large, in fact, that we've created three different seating areas. One of those was dictated by the queen-size sofa bed that our landlord left behind for us. In late June, it was just there. By mid-July, it was the dominant piece of furniture, outside our second bathroom, which is just off the great room. And with the simple adding of two nice chairs and a coffee table, voila, we had a second conversation and guest bedroom area.

Today I finished the third seating area, which includes just a drum coffee table and my wife's comfortable rocking chair, which also reclines. It worked perfectly, and she can still see our dated television set (no we haven't taken the plunge for a wall-mount just yet) from that spot. Our sofa and love seat, the original seating area we created, dominate the room.

Our second bedroom is very eclectic, acting as an office/bedroom and, thankfully, the credenza I was very reluctant to take from my mother and dad's Illinois condo. Now I'm just a little overwhelmed by the books we took with us; they had fit easily in the old house's built-in bookshelves.

Our master bedroom is huge, but it's missing my wife's touch with some curtains and we still have to transfer the clothing from two wardrobes in the room to the portable wardrobes we bought at Ikea three months ago. We have yet to put those together, but our goal is to do that before Thanksgiving.

And we're loving our kitchen. The kitchen is much smaller than in our old house, but we're making it work. My wife is actually finding things that we both put away with an eye toward convenience so she can cook easily. Today, I hung some of our wonderful plaques and framed, kitchen-related collectibles over our small kitchen table. It's very cozy.

Our dining room is really large. Our long table sits in a bright spot in front of the window, and other pieces like a huge mirror over the credenza and a china cabinet fit perfectly in the room. With all the boxes gone and the collections displayed, the room looks warm and welcoming. I shelved only the cookbooks my wife had been using and left most of her 100-plus cookbooks in their boxes and put them in the basement in a convenient spot.

Granted, we still have a way to go before everything has a place, but we're finally feeling like this is home. At long last, we're settled.

Steven Gaynes "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: