Oh There’s No Place Like Homes for Thanksgivingkah
Yes. I know I really botched up the words of that song. But with the odd concurrence of Thanksgiving and the first light of Chanukah falling on the same night, and our first trip back to Rochester since departing for Detroit, my family feels like they are going through some surreal times.
Rochesterians, very well-meaning and sincere, actually said it to me:
“Are you glad to be home?”
The word “home” was not something I expected to hear out of the mouths of my many Rochesterian friends and acquaintances I saw in the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving.
This is a homecoming of a sort. For my kids. Because after I checked off every last detail of what to pack, what to turn off and turn down in our new house. After the kids packed whatever they needed to eat and entertain themselves in the car. After the last seat belt had been clicked and the six-hour trek from Detroit to Rochester lay before us, my children said it:
“We are going home.”
Yes. Rochester is their home. Where they spent the better part of their formative years. It’s where two of three of them took their first steps and all of them lost their first teeth. It’s where their friends live who know them best. Who share some weird private jokes, shared histories, and their own strange way of talking in a fake accent.
For me, Rochester is not home. New York City is home. Or is it? I haven’t lived in the area for almost 20 years.
I am trying to make Detroit home. But it’s tough to make it home when we leave it for holidays. It’s not a home if there are no aromas of turkey and stuffing , and this year, the smell of potato latkes frying in a pan, and the sounds of grandparents, siblings and cousins hanging out in the family room. It’s just a house we live in.
Because home is where you go for the holidays. And if the majority of family do not live in your current city of residence, like the way smaller celestial bodies are drawn to larger ones in the universe, the pull is greater the other way. So home we must go.
Still, Rochester feels a lot like home now that we no longer live here. Yesterday, we spent the day in some old familiar places trying to catch up with as many people as possible. We got hugs everywhere. We are missed. And thought of. I lost track of how many hugs I gave and received. It truly was a homecoming.
But there are places you really cannot return. My youngest wanted to go into his old house. That, we told him, was off limits. He was able to peek into the downstairs family room and said he didn’t like how the new owners painted it blue.
The big kids tried to
loiter in visit their old high school. To them, that was home too. They had it all planned out. They would enter the building in the morning, loaded backpacks slung on backs and blend into the stream of hundreds of other teens before the morning homeroom bell. Either in the library or cafeteria they would study and receive friends, and hugs, during their free periods.
But their old principal, who had known them since their elementary school days, apparently never forgets a face. And, knowing that these two faces had moved to Detroit, he kindly but firmly told them that new high school policy forbids non students to visit during school hours. But he gave them a valiant A for effort.
Sometimes, you really can’t go home.