"Home For The Holidays" Actually Means Something To Me Now

As we're getting closer to Christmas and I'm getting ready for my flight home, it occurs to me that these past three months in Nashville have been the longest amount I've ever spent out of New York. When I was in college it's possible I spent more than three months away from home (though at this point who can remember), but since I went to school in Western New York I was still in the state. Up until September, the longest I had ever spent out of New York was a two-week family trip to Florida when I was ten - not exactly the kind of life-changing adventure that my current one has been. And in an ironic and somewhat poetic turn of events, I'm traveling back to New York exactly three months to the day since I left.

I'm very much looking forward to being home for the holidays, and I'd be lying if I said that this year the season didn't feel just a little bit more special than it has in the past. I guess the term "home for the holidays" can only really be understood when "home" is no longer where you live all the time. A 2008 survey found that almost 60% of Americans never live outside their home state, and almost 40% never leave their hometown. But now when I hear the song on the radio as I'm driving around my new town I can't help but feel differently about it...albeit with a slight change in the lyric. Its been six weeks since I last saw my girlfriend, and I haven't seen my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my extended family, or my closest friends in at least three months - for some longer than that. Sure, I've talked to many of them on the phone and online, but it's not the same as being able to share a meal or a drink with them.

I realize that to some people, this may seem like no big deal. I'm sure that many are jaded from the years and years of holiday traveling that they've done. But for me these past three months have felt like non-stop new experiences - new people, new places, new music, new opportunities, new responsibilities. Even when I'm not around town doing things and meeting people, just being here can still feel a bit foreign, so I'm excited to take a step back for a little while and enjoy things that I already know. People and places that are familiar. Yes, I'm not able to spend as much money on presents as I would like. Yes, my childhood home is now owned and lived-in by someone else. But in the end those little things aren't going to matter. Home isn't the amount of gifts below the tree or the roof under which that tree has been placed. Home is the people you surround yourself with, and that's where I'm going.

I'm going home for the holidays.

I met a man who lives in Tennessee and he was heading for
Upstate New York and some homemade pumpkin pie...

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    © STEVE SCHULTZ