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home for the holiday

December 21, 2011

dear author,

this is for those who left.

for the ones who, for some good reason, picked up and moved.

this is for those who wish they were home right now.

who are going home for the holidays, though home is where they already are…in their hearts.  but maybe not in person.

this week my family and i are boarding a plane, renting a car, holing up in a hotel room and traveling across the better half of the country so we can be “home” for the holidays.

i want to talk about what that word “home” means.  because frankly my little brain is a little confused.

what i do know is that home is not merely a geographic place.  i know this because my geographic place has changed a fair amount over the last four years.  from wisconsin to virginia to georgia to washington, d.c.  though i left my “home” in wisconsin long ago, as i packed up big red and started a new life at college in virginia, i never really lost the sense that wisconsin is my home.  it’s the place my parents chose to raise a child (later children).  it’s the place i learned to ride a bike and drive a car.  it’s the place i celebrated birthdays and packers’ victories.  and christmases.

i left wisconsin, yes.  but i never really left wisconsin.  what i think the author misses is that home doesn’t just feel special thanks to the people that never left.  the people who, with gratitude, i count on.  i am coming home to family and friends.  who make home more than just a dot on the map.  but, to me, home feels special because i left.   i appreciate home (the word, the feeling and the idea) far more than if i had lived my entire 26 years within one outline on the map.

home isn’t just an address or a house on a plot of land or a place where you live.  home is the place you miss more than anything in the whole wide world when you’re away.  home is the place that makes you who you are.  home is the accent that, though foreign to all your southern friends, makes you interesting and different.  home is fish fries on friday, grandma’s house on saturday and a packers’ win on sunday.

home is where i wish i were right now.

i love my apartment in d.c.  my family’s home in atlanta is beautiful.  my years in virginia are some of the best years of my life- or so i’m told.  and growing up in wisconsin, i never stopped to think much about it.  but now, not a day goes by without wistfully remembering the good old days caught in snow banks during bleak winters or racing to the pool on hot july summer days.  home is where the memories are.  the people may come and go.

i moved 8 years ago.  i spread my wings and packed up my things and didn’t look back.  i’ve created new homes.  and settled into a new life, in a different city.  but home is where the heart is.  even when our feet are not.

this is for the ones that never left.  i hope i’m one of them.

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