Janie Slater, White Fence Realty

At Christmas, All Roads Lead to Home

In Past Columns on 10/05/2009 at 5:33 pm

All roads at Christmas time lead to home.

Snow Covered Country Lane

People ask me all the time if I”ll be traveling over the holidays. I say, “Yes, we”ll be going home.” “Where”s home?” they ask.

Where IS home?

Cleve and I are working hard to create a home together for us and our kids. Last week I sang along with Christmas tunes on the radio while I swept the kitchen. Oh there”s no place like home for the holidays... Carolina broke in, “Yes, there is! There”s Mimi”s and Grandmama’s!” She didn”t want any part of staying at her “home” for the holidays.

Cleve says our home is his refuge after a long day at work. But we both know that our home in Alpharetta isn”t our “home” in the deepest sense of the word.

What is the deepest sense of the word?

On one hand, home is tied to a sense of place. A town”Metter. A landscape. A house:”the old homeplace.” Even an ecosystem: the pine barrens (Have you read Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Raye? You need to.). Some place where you”ve clocked in a lot of time in your life and created memories. It”s roots. Where family stories were created and are retold year after year, generation after generation. It’s a place filled with the smells of freshly plowed sandy soil, fresh baked pear tarts, fried catfish, boiled peanuts, and clean spring rains. It’s a space filled with the gentle sounds of the wind blowing through the tops of tall pines, whippoorwills before a rain, the distant hoots of owls, and noisy buzzy summer nights filled with the symphony of many creatures small and smaller.

On the other hand, “home” is people: those you love and who love you. “Home is where Mama is,” Cleve wisely concluded one evening after discussing the concept at length. Home is only home because that is the place where you were loved, or fell in love, or maybe if you are really lucky, both.Home is a place filled with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors, and years of memories, both good and bad.

At the innermost heart of it, “home” is just that”of the heart. An intangible, a feeling , a collection of memories. A sense of belonging somewhere. Acceptance not for what you”ve done, but for who you are. Home is the place of refuge and safety, where worldy cares fade, where things and people you love become the focus. To our soldiers in Iraq (soon to include my nephew Stephen!) and Afganistan, thoughts of “home” this time of year are both precious and painful. As you enjoy the holidays in your home wherever that may be, let’s keep those who are keeping our homes safe in our thoughts and heartfelt prayers.

I”ll be home for Christmas. “Country roads take me home, to the place I belong…”

(originally published 21 Dec 05, Metter News & Advertiser. By Janie Mercer Slater)

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