This holiday season, we’re changing the script on the sometimes-stressful, sometimes-hurtful language surrounding the holidays. We’re rerouting our conversation to make room for more stories and more opportunities to take care of ourselves and those around us. It’s our hope that you feel seen as we all head Homebody for the Holidays - together! 🤝💕
By Olivia Rogine
“So where are you from?” “Are you going home for the holidays?” These are some of the unavoidable questions that have been ringing through my ears through the season’s Friendsgiving celebrations and holiday parties.
I might be a homebody, but for me — and many others — the idea of home is a complicated one (despite what HomeGoods’ bathroom decor would have you believe). When the word “home” raises other unanswered questions, like “Where exactly is home?,” the holiday conversation waters can get especially murky.
Since leaving my hometown ten years ago, I’ve lived under ten different roofs; and after many years of grappling to feel “at home” during the holidays, I’ve begun to rethink what it all means in the first place. Why is it that without the physical place that I grew up (despite the interpersonal complexities that came with it), I didn’t feel at home at all?
This holiday season, I’m striving to redefine what home really means to me (maybe you are too?) Whether you’re traveling to see family or friends, staying put and hosting, or slowing down and spending the holiday season with few plans, I think we all deserve to enjoy a piece of “home,” so here’s how I’m choosing to explore and redefine this loaded four-letter word during what we’ll call a transitional phase of adulthood:
1. Find the things that feel like home.
Home might be a place where you grew up, went to school, or even the community which you’ve created with your friends. The common thread between it all is that home is (and should be) a source of belonging and comfort. The question can be less about where home is and more about what feels like home.
In my case, food plays a big role in that. I come from a long line of Italians from Brooklyn - a group of people we would now call serious “foodies”. A love for food is in my blood, and if there’s one thing my family can agree on, it’s good food. No matter where I am, my grandmother’s baking can transport me home. Some of my first memories were by her side in the kitchen. It wasn’t necessarily where we baked as much as the act of baking together that mattered; so now I find ways to build those recipes into my holiday rituals.
What makes you feel most at home? Maybe it’s a certain family heirloom or holiday movie — whatever it is, lean in. If it provides comfort, live in that feeling and create more of it.
2. Celebrate and honor the stories.
Each time my family gets together, we tell stories. More often than not, we’ve all heard them told year after year over the dinner table - so much so, that I feel like I’ve lived these stories, even though I wasn’t born yet for most of them.
At some point during my anthropology minor in college, I became more interested in all of the stories I hadn’t yet heard. Over time, simple stories had been overlooked to make way for the grandiose stories that offered up more opportunities for the beloved Italian hand gestures rather than actual substance. I wanted to celebrate and preserve all of the untold stories of my loved ones - our collective stories and our individual stories.
Listen to their stories - In an effort to do so, I downloaded the StoryCorps app and interviewed my family members during holiday gatherings (and soon after, my friends too). I realized these stories were new, untapped gems that allowed me to reconnect to my loved ones and feel at home outside of the physical space. These stories had the ability to connect us - to one another and to ourselves.
Read about their stories - Above all, storytelling has the ability to create understanding through connection. Which is why I chose to gift my parents StoryWorth a few holidays ago. For a majority of my formative years, my parents were separated. While it’s still an adjustment to see them merging their lives back together as an adult, I wanted to better understand their story and figure out where I belonged in it. For a year, my parents were sent a weekly email prompt that posed a question about their lives — this culminated in a bound book, detailing how they met, their hopes and fears, and everything in between.
Create your own stories - You don’t have to enlist apps or services to appreciate the stories that connect you to that feeling of home. Sharing a moment or memory with others or jotting it down for yourself can entice recognition of a common experience, which is the exact comfort of home that I tend to crave this time of year. Better yet, create your own memories and stories (and dreams) that you feel are worth making note of. Stories don’t have to be about the past if that’s painful, they can be about the future too.
3. Create new homey holiday traditions.
Holidays are often marked by traditions. Whether it’s cutting down a tree, nibbling on apples and honey for the New Year, fasting, dressing up as a superhero, or lighting candles to mark the first fruits of the harvest, all holidays take on their own unique identity. Whichever holiday you do or do not celebrate, there are homey traditions we can all create and appreciate on our own.
What are the practices that make you feel a sense of nostalgia and, more importantly, belonging? Creating new traditions can help you recreate meaning and shape what you want your (inner) home to feel like.
My not so new homey holiday tradition feels like waiting in line at my favorite bagel shop while it’s snowing outside on New Year’s Day. 😉
I often think it was a yearning for home that led me to a career in community building. After all, home and community share a common theme: belonging. Now, as everyday’s an exploration of what bringing people together means, I’ve learned a lesson or two: While New York will always be my home of origin, a true home is not necessarily a physical space, but rather, an ever evolving feeling of belonging that you can recreate with anyone, anywhere.
I hope you find what makes you feel most at home this holiday season, wherever you may be. 🤗
What does home mean to you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Images by Paul Hanaoka, Jennifer Pallian, and Alisa Anton via Unsplash