Going home for the Holidays is always full of ups and downs: There's quality family time and quality family dramas, catching up with friends is always a bonus until you start to feel unsuccessful compared to your colleague's accomplishments, and you eat way too much (But that's really never a problem, is it?) When you're in college, you love going home but you cannot wait to get back to campus to be with your friends to do the hooligan stuff you usually do. Things are a bit different when you are post-graduate or when you're much older going home. It seems that in our younger days, we never fully understand the needed observational time behind the Thanksgiving meaning mainly because we're just doing what we're told and giving thanks for all we have since that's a national holiday.
The biggest difference I felt between going home this time around versus all the times I went home for break during college was the way I sat back and observed what I had to the fullest degree. Usually, at the Thanksgiving meal or during the course of the day I take time to find appreciation for all the things I don't normally appreciate in the appropriate ways. I told my family members I loved them, I snuck some turkey to my dog or I sent a thousand texts to all my contacts and thanked them for being in my life.
I called my mom and told her I was sorry. I said I was sorry for giving her such a hard time when she's doing her best by my brother and me. I told her I was proud of her for being such a fighter and kicking life in the guts when it tried to kick her first. I had a conversation with her that I hadn't had with her in a long time. I actually listened to what she said, I took time to ask about the people in her life that aren't apart of mine because those people are important to her. After seeing her for Thanksgiving, something clicked and I understood that I had been reckless. I spent way too much time holding grudges for things that had happened years ago, and suddenly I understood the damage I could have caused because I was being selfish with my emotions.
I spent much needed time with my sister the very next day. Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time with her when I'm home but it's harder now that I'm away. Each second is precious with her. When I would go home for breaks I remember looking at her and thinking "Where has the time gone?" Then I would go on about my day. This time around, I spent hours with her. I talked to her, I let her tell me all of the little details of her school projects, I played Barbies with her (I have never in my life played with a Barbie) and then we went to get hot chocolate. I didn't tell her I would play with her later, because later never seems to come the way we expect it to. I stopped making excuses and I loved every second of my time with her while everyone was away. If I'm going to stay young at heart, I need to live the life of a carefree nine year old girl.
I drove around my sleepy town in the dead of the night alone. You don't get that in the city. The streets may be dead, but lights are always on and someone is always awake. Driving around a sleepy little town with the music playing low is a moment of peaceful recognition. That recognition is the recognition of just how much you love the town you grew up in. You spend so much time trying to run from it out of fear of becoming the sleepy townspeople in it, but you love the school system where your teachers were your dad's teachers. You love the back roads that all seem to lead back to the same gas station. All your best friends are within a five mile radius of your house, and you can be wild and free without getting into trouble because everyone knows everyone in that town so you're bound to get out of trouble somehow. Bliss settles calmly in your bosom when you realize just how wrong you were about the town you grew up in.
I stared at the sky every time I parked my car. Light pollution is a very real thing and its greatest victim is the night sky. On several occasions I have walked outside to watch some astronomical event and I have successfully seen very little. Back home in the country, the night sky is like none other. Somehow, you forget how many stars loom over top of you every single night when you don't see them regularly. It's also possible that you forget to find beauty in them when you do see them regularly. What is breathtaking about the sky is not how many stars there are, but how insignificant each one of those stars makes you feel when you admire their unique unification.
Ultimately, I fell in love again with my current lifestyle and my newest companions in my new hometown. Sometimes you have to create some distance to remember what excited you about your journey in the first place. It's healthy to miss home.
No matter who you are, or where you are, remember that there is more to the holidays than gluttony. I'm not preaching to you to be thankful for all you have. I'm giving you a heads up of the glorious feeling of the awakening. When it consumes you, you'll understand without needing to say so.