On Friday, I watched through the window as my plane descended into Chicago and the treetops got bigger and the car headlights became more than just a blur. The most wonderful part about flying home in December (amidst the fears of snow-provoked flight delays and lost luggage) is seeing the colored Christmas lights strung up along rooftops.
There's something about being home. That place of familiarity and nostalgia, and the memories of excitement and angst and fear and hope that binds you to it, forever I'd think. Remembering those nights laying in your bed and daydreaming about where you'd be when you were 25, and now that's a few months away, and the ways that things worked out and they also didn't.
I took a Family Therapy class in social work school and my professor asked anyone in the class to raise their hand if they thought they had a functional family. No one did. Visiting home for the holidays can be a big point of stress for people, because maybe they have what they consider to be a dysfunctional family. Maybe we all do in some ways.
But maybe coming home isn't about fixing anything. Not about fixing your family and their 'bad' habits, not about editing your old high school dreams to fit the life you ended up with, not about proving to your hometown friends that everything ended up perfect for you.
Maybe it's simply about sitting with it all and accepting it.
This year, as I surround myself with memories of my past and the people in it, I will be patient. I will be empathetic. I will be accepting - of my family, of my home, of myself.