Today while packing for a move to new digs, I was listening to K.D Lang sing these hauntingly beautiful words: “Once there was a way to get back home again.” With Christmas just around the corner, it made me think about home and wonder if there ever really is a way to get back home. The song made me long for something and I wondered what it was – people who had passed? Dreams? I wasn’t sure what it was, but I could sure feel it.
I remember years ago when I was in college and excited about family preparations for Christmas, I asked a young woman in my class if she was off home for the holidays. She answered no, and explained that her family home was a very toxic place. She couldn’t wait to move out to attend college, she said, and was never going back home. I felt so sad for her, and have always carried that memory as I think of the many good hearted people who spend Christmas far from their families.
I had always assumed that the only way to enjoy Christmas was with family, and that all the old traditions had to be followed. But a couple of years ago, I was on a long trip and spent Christmas in Florida alone. I wondered how I would feel. As the big day got closer, I found myself dearly missing my family, but at the same time I was greatly relieved at not having to shop, not having to travel by air, and not having to worry that I was probably overspending my budget. I hung a small string of lights in the trees around my trailer site and thought they looked beautiful against the stars.
On Christmas Day, I took my dog to the beach, and within minutes met a couple from Newfoundland, who I ended up spending the day with. It was relaxing and carefree in the warm sun, we waded in the crystal clear sea, wiggled our bare feet in the sand, and shared our stories. We had so many laughs.
In the days leading up to that Christmas I had written down on little cards made out of coloured construction paper, all the things and people that I was grateful for. I couldn’t believe the size of the card pile as it grew and spread around the miniature potted tree that was dusted in sugar. Never had I felt so relaxed and just plain grateful at Christmas. Yet my home was just a tiny little trailer on wheels, and I had no idea where I would be the following week.
Today I am content in the knowledge that my home is simply where I am at this moment. And as I continue to pack up all my “stuff” I know that I can be as happy and grateful as I choose to be, wherever I am.
Photograph © Janice Henshaw 2014