What is Home?
Home changes throughout our lives.
- The definition of home.
- The location of home.
- The meaning of home.
- The people who make a place home.
- The value we place on home.
- Even the recognition that some never felt they had a place to call home.
In the midst of this holiday season, many are grappling with aspects of home. This includes:
- Going home for the holidays.
- Hosting in one’s home.
- Missing those who can’t or won’t make it home.
- Not being invited home.
- The memories of toxic or dysfunctional family systems at home and so forth.
Where Do You Belong?
It is this time of year that puts a spotlight on people’s ideas of what if feels like to belong or not belong. People see advertising and believe the stories being told about what you should buy, how you should be and look, and even with whom you should be and where.
The truth is that we all get to decide what, where, with whom and how we spend the holidays, just like any other day. Yes, holidays are special times but they are not the only time we have to build connection, community and support.
It is best not to wait until the holidays to build relationships. Relationships can be nurtured throughout the year. Relationships change just like home changes.
The family life cycle churns on despite any desires we have to push that clock back or make it stop. I bought my house in my mid-20’s and I am entering into my mid-40’s. I consider my house to be my home. Not because of the stuff that is in it, but because of the comfort, safety, and creativity I experience when I am there. So my house is a home because I am in it. But when I leave I carry those feelings with me.
The Family Life Cycle and Grief
My mother thinks of her house as my home. She is not wrong to think this. Many adults feel that their parent’s home or the home they grew up in is “home,” and I suppose it is when we return to it. If you are raised by a family which has something to give and the capacity to give it and then you move out, you will leave with some of those things. Often when we leave our parents’ homes we take items with us like furnishings and mementos. When elders die they often leave us furniture, jewelry, art or other family heirlooms. When people divorce or even marry they either split up stuff or combine stuff to create a home or homes.
It is at those times that we each get to decide…What do I keep and make my own? What do I keep in honor of an other? Many of us struggle with holding onto things because letting go would be a betrayal to the memory and/or legacy of someone else. This translates to social/emotional holiday experiences as well.
Children grow up and leave “home” and create new homes and perhaps don’t come “home” for the holidays. Or when they do, they have changed (we hope). Because growth and change are part of that cycle. Still, many miss their children being little, as if that time holds more value…the truth is: children are intended to grow and the life experience that leads to children not growing into adulthood is not any loving parent’s preference.
Alone at the Holidays (Spending the Holiday with One’s Self)
We can begin to believe that holidays are lacking because someone we love is not there. Alternatively, we can feel guilty for enjoying ourselves. Others can feel disconnected from those who are there with us, by longing for those who are not. Lastly, there are those who are spending the holidays with themselves.
Some are content, but many struggle with the prospect of not having anyone with whom to share an experience, or exchange gifts, or watch holiday movies, or cook a special meal.
Whether you are a person spending the holidays with yourself or with others, you are home wherever you are. Home is something you carry with you. You can remember special places, times, and people while honoring the present. You can prepare a meal you enjoy. You can engage in festive decor or dress. If you have people to call and wish happy holidays, you can make those calls. If you don’t…you can resolve to cultivate relationships between now and the next holiday season.
The holidays are simply heightening our experiences of what already “is” in our lives. We don’t have to let those days define us more than others. The truth is some people feel very alone, even when they are with others. No place feels comfortable or like home because they are not comfortable with themselves. Home is not a mythical place. Home is internal. Quite simply put: You are home for the holidays, because “you” are home.
Copyright © 2017 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.