When I write my Christmas blog post each year I usually have a topic or theme for it. Some of them have been: the wonder and happiness that Christmas tree and mantelpiece lights inspire for me, how warm and happy memories of holidays past can make you feel, the traditions that mean Christmas for me and others, and the way that seasonal songs stir our hearts and memories.
This year as Christmas approaches, I have been thinking a lot about home. Maybe it’s because next summer will mark three decades since I arrived in Britain. By the end of next summer I will have lived half my life in Britain and half of it in Canada.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been in the United Kingdom for so long now. For many years after I moved to Britain, I avoided using the word ‘home’ to describe where I was living. I felt settled and happy here yet I didn’t feel like it was my home. At the same time, I had been away from Canada for long enough that I didn’t feel my native country was home either. So it was easier not to use the word at all. ‘Our house’ or ‘our place’ worked better.
But recently I’ve noticed that I now refer to the farm where I’ve lived for more than a decade as home without even thinking about it. That just feels like the right way to describe it. Although I think of myself as a Canadian, I have friends and my husband’s family in the area and I’m involved in many community activities. I’ve become part of the place where I live. I feel comfortable here.
And I’ve realised that home isn’t necessarily where you were born or where you grew up. It doesn’t have to be where you’ve lived most of your life. You might not have even lived there for very long. Or you may only visit when you can. It might be a remote cabin surrounded by snowy peaks or a hut under the blazing sun on a white sandy beach or a crumbling grey stone castle shrouded in mist or an apartment, identical to all the others, in a towering skyscraper. Home is where you are comfortable and feel you belong whether that is as part of a large boisterous family or living alone with your pet. It’s the place, the people, and the pets that you choose to be with.
Last year when I was working on some designs for my Redbubble shop for Christmas, I created several that shared the same slogan: ‘Home is where holidays happen’. The designs feature different living rooms, people and animals in each one but they share the same theme. I think they encapsulate my recent musings about home and Christmas.
Whether you have a quiet toast to the season with your cat on the couch in your bedsitter apartment or a relaxed celebration with one or two good friends in your tiny three room cottage or a huge party with family and friends spilling out of the front door of a five storey mansion, home is where you share love and laughter, and make holiday memories that will live on in your heart and mind. It’s where you want to be during the holiday season.
Last year in my Christmas blog post I shared a short story I’d written which loosely relates to what I’ve been talking about. In the story I talk about why hot apple cider is one of my lasting memories of Christmas and winter. If you’d like to read that post, you’ll find it here.
Today is Christmas Eve and there’s only a few hours until the festivities begin. I hope the holiday that happens in your home this year is a wonderful one and I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.