Christmastime I found my inner voices discussing the meaning and location of “Home”. It wasn’t hearing Bing Crosby singing the words “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me” (1943, Decca Records, lyricist Kim Gannon, composer Walter Kent, title & prior poem/song by Buck Ram). Although, I do love the song. No, it started when a few people up in the Seattle area asked if they’d see us during the holidays. The understanding was that in order for this to happen we’d come to Washington rather than that friends and family would come to Ashland, Oregon where we now call home.
Frankly, my first reaction was that if I were to do any winter holiday travel, I’d like to be getting off a plane with my snorkeling gear in hand and headed for a warm beach and warm waters.
My next thought was, OK so if we were to be limited to driving for the holidays, I’d prefer it to be a heat-seeking southbound trip. Of course, neither of those options provided family and friends and it was impractical to hope all our family and friends could come to Ashland for Christmas. So, there I was…it felt like leaving the chance of a sunny Christmas, or even the potential of a white Christmas (as we do get snow in Ashland) for a rainy Christmas (at least based on years of prior experience of living in the Puget Sound vortex) with fewer hours of daylight. However, doing so, in order to share in a joyful celebration with family and friends was the right thing to do. It was then I thought of the idea of saying what? “Yes, we’ll be home for Christmas?” “No”, one inner voice said, “this is home”. Because, truly, Ashland has become home to us. Another inner voice countered, “Come on, think back, there has always been a part of me that carries home in the heart and soul.” That is what started the internal debate about the meaning of home.
What is home? Where is home?
Well, when Klee and I first started talking about moving someplace with more sunlight, the candidates all included things like, longer days in winter, more sun, more warmth, more relaxed pace, and all these places were places where we “felt at home” when we were there. So, yes, I think we have many homes. Some people have a home base and a vacation home. Some people, often referred to as “snow birds” have a summer home and a winter home. Home takes many forms and can occupy many locations and feelings. Indeed, home may be anyplace you feel whole. It may be any experience you share with a particular person.
Home as birthplace.
Home as where most of your family and friends live.
Home as a feeling of belonging, comfort, good memories, even if you’ve only vacationed there or been there for work or ended up in by accident…
ls it your friend’s apartment?
Your sister’s house?
Your grandparents’ houses?
The home you remember having good times in with your favorite Uncle? The last place you saw and heard him laugh? The last place you sat listening to Bob Dylan together?
Home as in being in a brand new place and realizing you are taking slower deeper breaths, you are smiling, you feel free, relaxed, totally…well at home.
“Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte
“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
― Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
“Happiness doesn’t lie in conspicuous consumption and the relentless amassing of useless crap. Happiness lies in the person sitting beside you and your ability to talk to them. Happiness is clear-headed human interaction and empathy. Happiness is home. And home is not a house-home is a mythological conceit. It is a state of mind. A place of communion and unconditional love. It is where, when you cross its threshold, you finally feel at peace.”
― Dennis Lehane
“I’m subject to the natural forces
Home is where my horse is”
(Lyle Lovett, “Natural Forces”, Natural Forces, 2009, Lost Highway)
My current favorite lyric defining “home” is written by Amanda Anne Platt:
“Let’s go to Rome, let’s go to Paris,
Let’s go dancing, let’s go fishing,
I don’t care.
‘Cause there’s only just one place that I call home
And it’s my home because you’re there.
Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
You’re so sweet. It really just ain’t fair.
You’re my T-shirt, you’re my blue jeans,
You’re a cold beer, you’re my favorite easy chair.”
(12 April 2015, The Honeycutters, “Wedding Song”, Amanda Anne Platt, Me Oh My, Organic Records).