The longer I am away from my hometown, the more my definition of family and home changes and grows.
When I first moved away in 2011, it didn’t take me long to call Calgary home. I was in Fairview for the weekend and talking to a family friend and said something along the lines of “Yeah, I’m going home on Monday.” My dad laughed at me for already calling Calgary home after no more than a month and a half of being away.
It’s not that our little blue, 100-year-old, farmhouse won’t always be my home, I need to create a home wherever I am living. I need a safe space that is all my own, that I can share with my new friends, who become like family, where I can return to and relax at the end of the day. If the only place I could find that was in my hometown I would be miserable living anywhere else.
When I was in India a few months later, my perceptions of what home and family are changed once again. The ashram that the other university students and I visited had this completely different sense of family, home and belonging. All of the children that lived there were orphans, but they lived at the ashram for their whole lives, loving each other like brothers and sisters, welcoming visitors into their midst and sharing their joy and love.
None of these children were related by blood, but they were closer and happier than many families I have seen who are. They were loving and grateful, curious and ambitious, supported by each other because they wanted to, not because they had to.
It was at that point that I started to embrace the idea that home is where I make it and family are not only my blood relatives, who I love very much, but also the people I choose to have in my life, who look out for me just as I look out for them.
This weekend, a weekend set aside for family gatherings and thankfulness, I didn’t get to go to my hometown. I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in years, there just isn’t enough time to make the trip, but every year turkey day gets better. It amazes me that I can feel at home and welcome with people that I met only months ago. I am so thankful that I can celebrate home and family so far away from what I used to think my home was and with people who are now like family.
It’s a reminder, that wherever I go, I can find my people and be happy.
I hope all of you find the same happiness, welcome and sense of belonging that I’ve found.
I am thankful for you friends, you know who you are.