When you read a cut and dry definition of what it means to be a “military brat”, the health insurance, the exotic travel, and the plethora of friends sounds great. But the lack of a “home” is enough to make most people cringe. When I talk to people about my upbringing, I always get the question, “but wasn’t it hard not having a hometown?” Well honestly, not having a hometown is not at all the hard part about it. For me at least, it’s probably the least of my complaints, and in some ways, the best part!
Sure it makes the “where are you from?” question anxiety-inducing. But not because I instantly have a feeling of resentment toward the Air Force for depriving me of a place to live for longer than three years. It’s because now I have to pick from a long list of places I consider home. Of course, there are a few (Alabama) that I like to leave off the list. But there are so many places that when I think about my life there, I have a nice warm and cozy feeling. But the weird thing is, is I am sure if I went back to one of those places today, it would not bring back those same feelings.
What I have are good memories, not always, but most of the time. And those memories are associated with the people that were there. Home is about family and friends and friends who become family. So when people ask me where “home” is, of course I say Texas because my family is there. But to be honest, I’ve lived there a total of five months and can’t even tell you what the name of the road is that runs by my house. But now, when I think of Texas I think of our big fireplace and drinking wine with my family on Christmas Eve. I think of my dog-niece, Ava, running around frantically trying to herd everyone together (she’s a sheep dog), my sister and brother and law cuddled up on the love-seat, my Dad concocting some kind of cocktail for us and giving it a festive name like “Mrs. Clause’s Twinkle Toes” and my Mom conjuring up some kind of delicious desert…. Home.
Of course, this year I am not home. I decided that living in Europe for one year meant I needed to enjoy Europe at its finest.. during Christmas. Two days ago I came back from a solo trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was remarkable. The city was all lit up in Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. In fact, Denmark even has a word that can’t be translated in English called “Hygge”. Basically it’s like cozy, but there is a whole culture surrounding it. To create the art of Hygge means to fill your home with blankets, pillows, candles, have a fireplace, mulled wine, and surround yourself with friends and family. It really is wonderful. Everywhere you go is warm and inviting… but for me, one aspect of the hygge was missing; family. Traveling alone for me was good, it made me realize I don’t really want to do it again. I loved the experience of meeting new people, and doing whatever I wanted, but at the end of the day it would have been nice to share it with the people I am close to. (But no worries, I won’t be alone for all of Christmas).
My hope is that this Christmas you have the true feeling of “Hygge”… wherever “home” may be. Even if you are surrounded by boxes or the base is worried about fire so you can’t put up lights. I hope you can spend this time with people you love because no matter the circumstance or the crazy things going on in the world around you, they are there and that is a big gift in itself.
Merry Christmas to all!