I was at a holiday outing last week with a number of people I usually see just once or twice a year, and some that I was just meeting for the first time. So some of the conversations were the getting-acquainted kind, while others were more of the catching-up variety. Yet almost all of them included some discussion of holiday plans.

Since few of the people at the event have lived here in Minnesota their entire lives – which is pretty much the norm in the mobile society we live in today – conversations about holiday plans often included mentions and questions of travel, as well as different viewpoints and definitions of home.

“Are you going home for the holidays or staying here?” “Are the kids coming home for Christmas or will you be visiting them?” “Whose home are you going to for Christmas this year?”

When I was young, most of my extended family lived practically within walking distance of each other. Holiday logistics were much easier to work out then, and our Christmas plans and traditions didn’t vary much from year to year. At least, that’s how I remember it.

By the time I was “grown and gone,” and especially after I – as well as my sisters – got married, things got a little more tricky and complicated, as they do for most people at that time in their lives. Suddenly having two families and sets of traditions and expectations to coordinate can be a major challenge. But most people work it out and live to tell about it – even after they start having kids of their own, and after families start spreading out across the country and around the world.

I’m sure that making plans and figuring out the arrangements for holiday homecomings are among the reasons many people consider the Christmas season to be the most stressful time of year. There are other reasons, of course, but these are big ones. And I think they emphasize – although we may not realize it at the time – how important family is. And being at home.

I consider myself very fortunate that I not only grew up in a loving, welcoming family and home, but I married into one as well. And it’s the kind of home we’ve tried to provide for our kids as they were growing up.

Now that they, too, are grown and gone, we’re not able to spend the holidays with all of our family, or in the ways and places I’d like. Yet knowing that our loved ones are with loved ones of their own, and are safe and warm, gives me a sense of joy and peace. It fills me with a greater sense of love and appreciation for my family. And it makes me feel like I’m home for the holidays. No matter where I am, and no matter where they are.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Home is where the heart is,” and a song that closes with the line, “There’s no place like home.” I think both are true – during the holidays and at any time of the year.

Merry Christmas!

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 24, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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