I recently took a trip back home to the South after two years of not connecting in person with my extended family. In fact, I’m writing this from that very place.
Because of the pandemic, so many of us have been unable to see those closest to us. We’ve Zoomed, Facetimed, and digitally linked ourselves into one another’s houses and lives, doing all we can to ensure our connections with one another don’t fizzle out. I’ve had just about enough of that life–especially when it comes to my interactions (or lack of) with extended family. I’ve determined, after all the past almost-two years have thrown my way, that no matter where life takes me or where I may live, there’s nothing quite like coming home and being with my people.
Growing up, family gatherings were everything. More than family, what I most lived for was the fun and the mood shift that came when extended family visited. I was an only child raised in my grandmother’s house, so I couldn’t wait to see them. When they pulled up and parked out front, I’d get so excited my breath would catch and my heart would race just thinking about all the fun we were about to have.
Aunts, uncles, and cousins that were more like brothers and sisters crowded the living room floors and bedrooms. My grandmother (affectionately known as “memaw”) yelling at all of us “youngins” to “stay in or out” and “stop running up and down [her] stairs.” Don’t even get me started on the desserts: sweet potato pie, icebox lemon meringue pie, Mississippi mud cake, pound cake–and that’s not even the half of it. In true Southern fashion, everything we did was big, and I absolutely loved it. Those visits, and the memories attached to them are, to this day, some of the best of my entire life.
As time passed and life did what it does best – marriages, deaths, moves, and so on, the dynamics of those frequent gatherings changed. This idea of home and what it means to me has also morphed over the years. I’ve matured and experienced life in varied ways and, with that, the idea of what it means to come home has also matured.
When I was younger and in my first few years of marriage, I don’t think I had much of a grasp on what home actually meant to me. All the moving around as a military family –while it had its benefits– didn’t exactly help provide positive reinforcement of the concept.
Moving from place to place, disconnecting, reconnecting, building community and relationships, and deconstructing them definitely left me a bit jaded at times. Now I’m discovering that home isn’t what I thought it was in my early twenties when I was just trying to sort out life and navigate raising toddlers, finding more of my purpose, and pursuing passions. Home isn’t this elusive place anymore so much as it’s a feeling.
As we approach another year of holidays apart from those we love, and as I sit here in the place where my ideas of home were first formed, I realize you can be physically present in a place that used to feel so much like home and still experience loneliness, unsettledness, anxiety, and confusion. These feelings don’t necessarily surface because of anything happening around us, and I’m learning to hold the tension of those contrasting emotions.
In all my wanderings over the years, I’m learning that sometimes that place of settled-ness and contentedness is found within me, and ultimately, because of my faith in God, that also means I find it in Him. When I think about it this way, I realize home isn’t that fleeting after all.
The memories from my childhood – I carry them with me.
The laughs and cries and rollercoasters of seasons – they’re with me, too.
At the end of the day, I find great resolve and peace knowing that I can experience this sense of home whether I am alone or with those who have helped nurture it within me.
So, whether you’re alone, unable to travel this season, or a particular set of family or life dynamics limits you from being together, remember this one thing: as long as you are alive and “sucking air” on this Earth, nothing can keep you from coming home again. It is a place you can settle into and receive over and over and over.
Take what you need, love. After all, you’re home.
How has your idea of home changed? What new ways are you finding to connect with yourself and those you love in this season?Leave a Comment