As our dear friends pulled away in their SUV, Little V called out from my arms, “Merry Christmas!” and my heart sang a little. Two hours later tears spring to my eyes because a piece of my home is now gone.
Everyone needs a place that they belong. Most are born into that place, into a family, into a home. After all, parents give us a roof over our heads, teach us how to succeed in life, and love us unconditionally. We belong with that family and, no matter what corner of the world we move to or what house provides that roof, that family is home. Right??
That’s what I thought as a young child, during my troublesome teenage years and even into very early adulthood (very early…let’s face it, I’m not that far in). But that home is not always a natural fit. Sometimes the “home” we’re born into isn’t the one we belong in. When that happens, we tend to feel adrift and alone. And it’s up to us to figure out where we belong and how we fit in.
For college I moved across the United States, knowing not a soul, to a place I’d never even visited. My parents made the twenty hour drive and dropped me off with tears and promises of seeing me soon (though I’m sure a part of each of us was a little relieved). My first semester of college left me without any close friends, but I was happy. I was “finding my place” in my own way. As Thanksgiving approached there was talk of flying “home” for the holiday break, but at the last minute my parents decided not to buy the ticket. And I couldn’t afford to pay for myself.
Despite how very different I feel from my over-sized family and how get-togethers remind me of my ill-fit place among the fifty plus group, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. So not flying “home” had me rather upset. Two new friends of mine sat down with me at breakfast that Wednesday and saw the disappointment all over my face. When I told them the reason, one of them said, “Don’t be so sad. We’re your family now.” At that moment, something clicked.
I don’t need to rely on the family I was born into. I don’t need to cling to the hope that one day they might fill that void I feel whenever I watch their holiday antics, teasing humor or embarrassing pranks. I can love them and appreciate them for who they are, but I don’t need to be defined by our dysfunctional relationships.
Six months later I took the first step of creating a new family and married the love of my life. I was nineteen. My family was certain it was a terrible mistake. Almost a decade and two incredible children later, we are now a family of four. We still live across the country from my parents and siblings. We live across an ocean from Mr. M’s. But we only live 200 miles from home.
You see, shortly after we married, Mr. M and I moved from a little college town to start our lives together. Little did we know, we were moving home. We found people that love us for who we are. We found a community that would drop everything in an instant if we needed them. And we created a larger family – people to have over on holidays and to miss horribly when we are apart for 12 days, 4 hours, and 17 minutes.
And so, for the seventh time in almost seven years we are packing up our little family. But this time, we’re moving to stay. We are moving to settle in at home and to be with our family.