“Are you going home for the holidays?” This simple question has always had me stumbling over my words. Home. Am I going home? Wait, where is home again?
As a 1st generation product of the Greek diaspora, this concept has always been a struggle. My parents immigrated to a small town in North Carolina with my older sister right before I was born. I grew up in North Carolina, speaking only Greek at home with parents who were trying to learn English as I was trying to learn to walk. My fondest memories are the summers I spent on our Greek island. We spent lazy nights consumed with gazing up at the stars from my balcony amidst an epic card game trying to catch my aunt slipping cards under her lap. My father’s family all live within five minutes walking distance of our house in a picturesque village and my mother’s family is just a short car ride away.
However, my current address says Washington D.C. I moved here after I graduated college, to a wonderful melting pot of cultures and opportunities populated with people who always seem to just be passing through.
Again, I question, where is home? If I don’t fly to Greece, I won’t get to see my best friend unwrap the picture frame I made her. I won’t get to see my godson’s smile when he gets the new toy I bought him. If I don’t fly to North Carolina, I won’t get to attend our cozy Greek Orthodox Church’s Christmas Eve service. I won’t be able to hand my sister her horribly wrapped gift.
But if I don’t stay in D.C., I’ll miss seeing my friends, not to mention countless holiday parties and ugly sweater bar crawls.
Then it dawned on me. Why have I always focused on the “wont’s”? I have wasted so much time concentrating on what I will miss over the holidays that I have overlooked the simple beauty of it all. Yes, the holiday season is hard when relatives and friends happen to be scattered across the world. But that’s just it. Home is everywhere for me. Home is in my tiny shoebox of an apartment in D.C., in my childhood house in North Carolina and in the Greek villages so close to my heart. Home is in Hawaii where I jumped out of a plane on the North Shore a few months ago. Home is in Germany where I studied international business and faithfully tried to practice speaking German even though the bakery employees would giggle at my accent and respond to me in English. Home is in the Caribbean where I very ungracefully fell off a paddleboard on a Puerto Rican shore last week. Home is in the smile of a friend after a hard day. Home is in the kindness of a stranger lending you a dollar when your metro card is empty so you can ride the bus. Home is all around you. Home is happiness. Home is everywhere.
Am I going home for the holidays? I’m already there.