Rewriting the definition of “Home” for this Holiday Season: On Thanking & Giving.

If your eyes had never rested upon a textbook story you would have believed that the first pilgrims and indians shared arroz con pollo and Capri Sun while singing to Justin Bieber.

One Little Pilgrim slips her hand under the table to find the grip of another Little Indian whose headdress is held up by plastic flower hair clips. They are a part of circle of 22 four-year-olds all taking turns proclaiming what they are most thankful for.

A parade of Mommies, Daddies, TiTis, and others, spill from their mouths as they listen intently to one another. It is the first moment of silence I have welcomed all year with these Little Ones.

I fit perfectly around the table with my preschoolers as we celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday. But my mind kept inching back to a different table that I will not be sitting around this year.

This will be the first year where I don’t take my seat at a long familiar table that still carries my initials within its wooden spine.  This Thanksgiving, instead of being home, I will celebrate the holiday with seven other volunteers in my program. Sharing Stories. Enjoying Community. Sharing Hot Coffee as We Make our Way to See the Big Balloons Come Sasheying Down 34th Street.  I am sure that even in our unity we will still find our minds meandering to our own memories of being home for the holidays.

Home. Funny how most stories seem to drift back to this word these days.

I adore when my words are able to play tag with those of a dear friend. Just like Little Children who Run and Run, Ignoring the Street Lights as They Come On. Libby wrote about “home” recently and what compels an individual to allow a four-letter word to play piggy back upon a spot on a map.

If you had asked me a week ago I would have certainly told you that Home is a place that I miss greatly. Home is not the Bronx. Home is not Manhattan. Home is not New York City.

Perhaps just seven days ago I believed that Home was a place to be, a destination after three clicks of your red heels, a spot of comfort to fall into when you feel at odds with the world around you. More and more these days, I am beginning to see that home is not a place where we go but rather something that we can give to one another. Maybe I just choose this definition during this holiday season because it leaves me believing that I am never far from home. That I am Never Without Home.

Home is something you can find in a letter from a best friend. She Writes her Words Pumped with Love and Pride, her Syllables Bursting with Life. They fill you better than the Floats that gulp air in the Macy’s Day Parade.

Home is in a single swipe of a gift card from a friend, a Push for you to Purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pretend as if a Coffee Date is Among You. You practically cry in taking the first sip, wishing you had accidentally just bumped knees with her from under the table.

Home is receiving a package in the mail from your mother, filled to the brim with organic food favorites wrapped within a Bright Yellow Towel. You puzzle at the Yellow Towel until you read the card from her, “When I was in New Mexico for some holiday I remember a package from my mother with a beautiful yellow towel in it so I will continue the comfort and color of this tradition.”

Home is a gift. And also a Give.

We can give Home to someone else by holding their Tiny Brown Hands and wiping their tears, so as to make sure that the Indian Man Painted Upon Their Face does not get Washed Away in the Flood.

We give someone Home by brewing a cup of Hot Chocolate and Meeting Them Face-to -Face for a Skype Date. Sitting Cross-Legged on the Floor, Laughing as if Shoulders were Touching.

I guess it comes with the growing up, this realization that we may not always be “home for the holidays.”  While I am tempted to tackle people who drape clichés all over the world like Holly and Ivy, acting like they are next big thing, I am quite torn because those clichés are famous for a reason. We like to find Home in one another. There is no place like Home. Home is where the Heart Is. But why all the heartache in stapling Home to a place? Why not carry Home with us wherever we go, sprinkling it like confectionary sugar upon the people we encounter who need a little less of that heartache and a little more Home?

I pray you Find Home and Give Home this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Link Arms. Laugh Wildly. Dance Outrageously. Watch the Parade or Go to the Parade. Better yet, Make your Own Parade. Sing Carols. Play Chimes. Ring Bells. Don’t say it’s too early for all of that Ruckus, Rejoice in the Ruckus. Pack up your purse and get out there for Black Friday, just to say you tried it once. Eat til your Stuffed. Thank God for that Food. Pray for Those without it. Make Jokes. Catch up with Old Friends. Wear a Ridiculous Holiday Apron. Smile at the Little Ones as they play before dinner. Hug your Mom. Dad. Sister. Uncle. Grandma. Smell them too. Yes, Smell Them Too. Sip in the atmosphere alongside the Cider. Breathe in the essence along with the Sweet Aromas. Deck the halls. Deck the walls. Watch the Grinch but don’t be one. Welcome the Holiday Season with Open Arms. Put down the to-do list and just sit down, around Loved Ones. Take time to Count Your Blessings, one by one by one by one.

Split the Holiday into two parts, like two identical twins who both compete for their mother’s love, knowing all the while that they are absolutely equal. Thanks & Giving. Both loved equally and the same. Do your share of both this season. Thanking & Giving.

Stop the bickering. Stop the comparing. Stop the doing. But Never Stop the Thanking or the Giving.


19 thoughts on “Rewriting the definition of “Home” for this Holiday Season: On Thanking & Giving.

  1. Does this make mean it’s my turn to be it and play tag? I bet you are faster than me– I’m not sure how I follow up such a great post right around the holidays.

    It is really hard to be away from “home” on holidays. The green bean casserole is never the same…the family isn’t there…and things just don’t see the same. but there is still SOMETHING there to help the holiday exist, to help make new great memories. This is my third Thanksgiving away from home. and it has been different memorable experience each time.

    I envy your ability to see the parade live. When I first moved to NYC that was one of the things I looked forward to most! We are doing a potluck here tomorrow night . We went to a guy who speaks little to no English and asked him if he’d cook a turkey for us that we bought from another guy, and he got excited. It was really amazing to see the joy in face to help us. And while I won’t touch the turkey stuffed with sausage tomorrow, there will still be a great joy in seeing the big bird as the center piece.

    What a wonderful post about home and holidays and all the simple things in life as usual . Happy Thanksgiving Hannah. Thanks for giving us so much to think about : )

    1. Bah ha ha , the second I thought of our posts playing tag it brightened my life instantly.. Finally raising my head after nearly 36 hours of solid sleep. being sick is not so fun. I really hope you had an amazing TG Libs, by the looks of the post you did!

  2. Oh boy, tearing up as I sit here in the Northborough Library. As usual, you just put words to what I’ve been feeling lately. Finding home in the most unexpected places and people, like in the people who surrounded me in that little abbey in Still River, MA or in a song that reminds me of summer with my best friends. It’s in the hug you give a new-found or long-lost friend when that is all that both of you need. You’re so right, Hannah, home is more of a feeling that you can give and receive than anything else, the feeling of happiness, love, and completion you get when you know that for whatever reason, you are right where you belong.

    1. Thanks for reading, Bri. I wish more than anything that I could be around you these days, your presence is so missed in my life. Hold tight this finals season, make sure you stock up on the coffee and take frequent laughing breaks, remember, it is still the holiday season!

  3. what a great home story that was loved the pictures of the kids & the pictures your words stirred in my mind. I will watch parts of the parade & i’m sure i will see you in the crowd many times. I can feel your happy thanksgiving in your words. love you & in my prayers i will be giving thanks for you i don’t know about that black friday thing but i bet we can raise a ruckus the house is decked in indian regalia drums & bells included

  4. Your words never cease to inspire, love. Home is word I have a love-hate relationship with – simply because I’ve allowed myself to define it by the place I long for, that place far across the ocean which raised me from birth to teenage years, that place that houses all the first and still sometimes, best friendships I’ve ever had. That place with beautiful architecture and history and a national pride the likes of which I still haven’t seen anywhere else. I still call it “home”, and it’s always with a hint of sadness and nostalgia attached. But from today on, I’m going to take a leaf from your book. “Why not carry Home with us wherever we go?” Why not indeed. Love this post, love your spirit and messages, love you. 🙂

  5. I’ve got to say it now, your posts make me feel like I have a big wool sweater, my grandmother playing piano and singing showtunes, and a big mug of peppermint tea in my hand. So basically, the most comfortable feeling in the world. I’m pretty sure I haven’t de-lurked myself yet, but I’ve been enjoying reading from your blog and just find your magical view of things so…well, magical. I’m a college student that is basically stranded from all of her BFFs who are scattered across the country, and these posts always bring me some sort of comfort, make me tear up, and I’m continually shocked by your wisdom. Can’t wait to see what other wonderful things you do in this world. So thank YOU for that! 🙂

    xoxo Mackenzie

    1. I think this just may be the best comment I have ever received. Seriously, if ever there was something that I wanted my blog to be for someone, it would be just what you described. It gives me great comfort to know that you are comforted, and provokes me to write even more. The thank you is returned for that one.

  6. Hannah
    Another great, thought provoking blog. I have always believed “Home” is where the heart is and the memories we carry with us. I am sure you are right there at your mom’s table in thoughts, and prayers and in the memories of all the holidays past. You are doing wonders Hannah and YOU are making such a difference in so many lives. On this Thanksgiving I salute you. You may be separated by distance from your family and friends, but I believe you are right there, sitting beside them in spirit and offering a kind and caring hand, smile and your never ending wisdom beyond your tender age. There are a multitude of silent “thanks” going out to you toda – maybe from someone you passed or sat next to you on the Subway, someone you spoke to on the street or maybe a child…. but because of their encounter with you, their lives are a bit brighter. Happy Thanksgiving Hannah!!!

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Hagan! I ended up with a 102 fever for Thanksgiving, yikes. But wonderful people still surrounding me and taking care of me (I am almost better! YAY!).

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  7. Happy Thanksgiving Hannah! You may not have been able to be physically home but I have no doubts that you were there in your heart. You were giving your little preschoolers a “home” while you were sitting there sharing with them.

  8. Beautiful. I also find the idea to find home in places away from home a beautiful concept. I have never spent Christmas (we don’t have Thanksgiving here) away from my parents but I have no doubt that the day will come that I will not be able to go home for the holidays. Making a home for oneself away from home with friends and in oneself will be a great comfort.

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