I’m home for a few days; home being a relative term, really. I only lived here for about three years and never in this particular house. My family lived in several places in Southern and Northern California until I was thirteen. Then we moved here. Three years later we moved to Washington. About two years later, shortly after I graduated from high school, my parents moved the family back here and have lived here ever since. But, by then I was away at school and never really came back for any length of time.
When people in Utah ask me where I’m from I typically reply, “Los Angeles.” I only lived there for a few years as a small child. But, both my parents were born and raised there. My 87 year old grandmother still lives there in the house they bought when my dad was five. There are aunts and uncles and cousins that all live in Southern California from the north end of the San Fernando Valley all the way down to San Diego. We spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas there in that house in Tarzana until I was thirteen and many, many since then. I call it home because it is the only location that has been a constant in my life for my whole life.
Of course, when anyone outside of Utah asks me where I’m from, I call Utah home. After all, I’ve lived there for sixteen years (with the exception of a brief six month stint in New York when I was done with school and trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up).
And Utah really is home. Every time I fly into Utah whether I’ve been gone for a weekend or month I see those majestic mountains and get a little choked up. There is peace and safety for me in the shadow of the everlasting hills. There are canyon drives and hiking trails, beautiful vistas and great skiing. Utah is home for other reasons, too. Three of my four siblings live there. Three of the four little people who call me Aunt live there. My students are there. Lots of friends live there. In Utah is a job I love, working with people I admire and respect and learn from every day. I live in a place that several of my ancestors helped to settle. Ten of my direct ancestors are buried in cemeteries less than an hour drive from my house. Maybe Utah is in my blood. It is certainly in my heart.
But, this Thanksgiving week I left Utah. My brother and I came to Portland, Oregon to be with my parents. We’ve laughed and shopped and played games. We’ve driven through beautiful forests and over sun-streaked mountains. We’ve talked and reminisced over old family pictures. We’ve done a little family history. And there has been food – lots of food.
So, this Thanksgiving weekend as I sit here in the quiet morning hours after a day of football and a feast for four, I am so very grateful for my incredibly full and happy life. I am also grateful that I have many homes – places I can go where I am loved and where I can love. And I pray the same for you!