Turkey in the fridge. Parents out shopping. First-year college students upstairs sleeping, getting ready to break up with their high school sweethearts while they’re in town. The holiday season has begun.
At the heart of the holidays is the idea of going home. But where is home these days?
Like the promise of working at the same job for your whole career, the traditional notion of home has largely given way. Home means many things today, few of which resemble the programs we grew up watching on TV, with families like the Brady Bunch or the Cosbys.
So, in the days and weeks between now and New Years’ Day, how do we approach going home? Where is home, and how do we get there?
Here are 3 tips for getting started.
1) Realize the storybook “home” was partially true, but for most people, plenty of fiction. It’s easy to grieve for the home everyone else seems to have but we don’t. But actually, few people ever did experience the “Home Sweet Home” version. I still wonder how the Brady’s managed to pay the expenses for all those kids, including their helper Alice, dutifully available every day in her uniform in the kitchen. I don’t think Carol Brady had a job, so Mike was one darn successful architect.
2) Realize “home” is a concept that evolves over time. A few days ago I landed at Schiphol airport in The Netherlands. As I got off the plane I thought to myself, “it’s so good to be home.” Only one year ago I wrote the following sentence in my book, describing my move here to live with my new Dutch husband: “I’d be stretching it to say that Amsterdam feels like ‘home.” If the safety and comfort of home feels far away to you now, have faith that this isn’t a permanent state of affairs.
3) Realize “home” is a state of heart-and-mind as well as a physical place. Thinking home is a house in the place where you grew up overlooks how much we generate the sensation of “home” inside of ourselves. We can touch that experience of “home” even if that house has long since been sold. If all the people we loved in our first house have died. Or we never had a place we called home in the first place. If we’re alone this holiday season, or we have excellent reasons not to go back to the dwelling of our youth, ever. Ultimately we are home when we know our place in the wider world, we know who we really are, and we know the purpose of our lives. In that sense, we can all go home, no matter where we are for the holidays.
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