Going home for the holidays always draws up various emotions for people. If you are someone who left home after high school like me, you either look forward to going home each year at the holidays or you don’t. This really depends on your reasons for leaving. For me, leaving meant finding myself and my own confidence, but I wasn’t trying to escape from my family. For others it may have been a way to escape a tough home situation or to find people more like-minded and accepting. For these reasons, going home for the holidays may not be so exciting. Either way, home will always hold an important place in everyone’s heart.
Growing up, I never felt like I quite fit in. When we moved from Philadelphia to the suburbs in the middle of 6th grade for me, it took a long time for me to fit in. Besides a few close friends, it took me three years to make, I was bullied. Girls were cruel back then. By high school, I just didn’t really give a shit what people thought of me. I couldn’t wait to escape after I graduated. Of course this decision was bittersweet, because although I hated high school and my town, I was very close with my family and my best friend, Ronnie. So, leaving to find a place I could fit in, meant abandoning the people that supported me through it all. That support though, is what gave me the confidence to get away and still know that they would be there loving me through it all. So I left.
I don’t regret leaving one bit. I was able to really grow as a person at college in Boston and make long lasting friendships with people who understood me. Then I moved home briefly before moving to Oregon and was reminded of why I left. Those who stayed in my hometown still held on to the same mentality they had in high school. I couldn’t deal with that. Home gave me a sense of anxiety about my past and who I used to be. So, I escaped again, this time 30,000 miles away to Oregon. Here, I truly felt I had found a home.
Every year, I look forward to and dread going home for the holidays. I love seeing my family and best friend, but I hate that feeling that arises from my past. I try to avoid going out in town and bumping into anyone. This year, I am bringing home my partner for the first time ever. I’ve never brought home a boyfriend for the holidays, and usually have faced a barrage of questions from family about my love life. I normally had to fib a little about how I had serious boyfriends back West, but this year it is for real. I’m engaged and all those fibs are a thing of the past, yet still I’m having nightmares of this return.
Last night I dreamt that I returned home and was talking to some girls from my high school about my fiance, then I realized that I had made him up and would eventually have to reveal that it was all a lie and be embarrassed. This reminds me of in Middle School when I lied to the popular kids that I had a boyfriend at another school, so that they would think I was cool. Only this time, I awoke to rediscover that Ethan is real and I’m not lying. It is amazing how no matter how much time passes, home can still make old feelings resurface.
I am lucky though that at least my family are people I enjoy visiting during the holidays. They are what makes home a special place for me, because they are my best friends. We are super close and talk all the time and they are the only reason I would regret moving so far away. This is not true for a lot of people, who never had good relationships with their parents or siblings and oftentimes dread traveling home for the holidays. I feel for those people, because if it weren’t for my family I probably would never return to my home town. It is a shame that individuals in the LBGTQ community have a tough time going home after coming out to their family. How can someone’s family not still love them no matter who they choose to love?
My sister is gay and we love her to death. There was never a moment of hesitation for my parents about continuing to support her and love her. I wish all families could be like this so that there weren’t people out there afraid to go home or unable to go home at the holidays. Family should be a source of love and support for people no matter what, especially when someone left because they hated their hometown. Family should never make you feel bad about yourself or grill you about your life or accomplishments so that you compare yourself to other’s your age. Family should hold the warmth of a home no matter where they are.
If you don’t share the same ideologies as your family, try to find some way to still connect with one another or to open each other’s minds. Family is so important and should represent unconditional love. Of course, if your family really isn’t what represents that to you, then family can be the one you have formed and chosen among friends and partners. Then you must work hard to build a home that your future children will want to come home to, because home should not be a place we avoid especially at the holidays.
I hope that you all are able to return home for the holidays and it gives you nothing less than a warm fuzzy feeling! Happy Holidays!!