What happy homecoming means

Our five-year-old understands the literal meaning of home. He abstractly outlined our brick structure where we live. He added details such as the dining room table and bunk beds. A home may vary from a modest dwelling to the more elaborate. Is home a place, community, feeling, or something more?

2015, Susan Ryan Kalinas Photography

2015, Susan Ryan Kalina Photography

A home often includes family members with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends in the community. We feel at home when we visit family and celebrate with loved ones. Kids laugh and squeal as they play.

Homes may represent rivalries. My husband's Milwaukee relatives watch the Green Bay Packers while my family cheers for the Chicago Bears.

Beyond hometown loyalties, sensory sensations may trigger memories of home. Our boys love the smell of fresh baked oatmeal chocolate cookies that smells like my parents' home. As a child, a grade school friend asked why our kitchen always smelled like dinner. Thankfully, my Mom cooks often.

Back in the day, my Mom regularly called out, "Wear your hats, scarves and gloves!" Today, the kids and I have dance parties with my Dad in their grandparents' kitchen.

2018 Thanksgiving at my parents' home

2018 Thanksgiving at my parents' home

Disregarding the usual chaotic stress of daily life, our family feels blessed to experience a happy homecoming in our community of faith, school, and with extended family and friends. When college friends and I attended mass a few weeks ago at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, we felt nostalgic our Sunday mass at our dormitory in pajamas tradition.

Friend reunion

Friend reunion

The idea of homecoming may evoke feelings of joy, unconditional love, anxiety, sadness, and even fear. Michael Singer's book The Untethered Soul examines these feelings. "These feelings are just part of the nature of a human being... they are not you, just something you're feeling and experiencing."

Would our dear Mom say that's too deep? As our traditional Irish Catholic American Mom would joke, keep it light. Maybe that's the secret to a happy homecoming. We may simply feel the familiarity of home without overthinking fleeting details.

Michael Singer's book reinforces the idea of letting go. To suspend expectations and judgment, help a happy homecoming. As my Mom's favorite musician and song writer, Paul McCartney, sang we should, "Let it be."

McCartney dreamed of his own Mum, who helped ground him. "Be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out." We remind our boys to focus to help clear their minds for clarity and gratitude.

We try to stay centered in our values and beliefs to do our best. We strive for calm and peace. Together, we can feel the love that makes our family feel at home figuratively. This time of year, and always, we honor and thank our elders for their nurturing gifts that strengthen our homecoming. Despite the complexity and complicated nature of life, what does a happy homecoming mean for you?

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Filed under: faith, family

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