November brings hopes and expectations of good things. There’s a longing to come home for the Thanksgiving holiday with gatherings of family and friends. You anticipate building memories filled with warmth and security.  It’s one reason Hallmark Christmas movies are popular.

But warmth and security doesn’t reside in all homes, especially during the holidays. Conflict, past hurts, and damaged relationships cause anxiety and stress as holiday gatherings approach. We look to the holidays to fill our longing for security, but when holiday experiences or expectations disappoint us, we can feel depressed, angry, or sad. Perhaps you’ve found yourself mentally preparing yourself for how to handle it all.

Reframing expectations is critical as you face longings that aren’t realized. Instead of focusing on home as a place, there’s comfort in thinking about home as a feeling. It can be a feeling you have when you’re with a person or have an experience that’s safe and secure. Below are responses I received when asking others to describe the meaning of home when I was writing Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind:

  • Home is love and laughter, noise, heartache, tears, and family.
  • Home is freedom.
  • Home is my safe base, my nest.
  • Home is where I retreat to after doing battle all day.
  • Home is where you can live, where memories are made.
  • Home is where I am unconditionally loved.
  • Home means having a safe place to land.
  • Home is my sanctuary.
  • Home is people, safety, relief.
  • Home is where I’m comfortable, the place I feel free to relax, unwind, and be with those I love.
  • Home is where my life seems at peace and at rest, where my heart yearns to be, and where my family thrives.
  • Home is where I can be myself without fear of being judged or misunderstood.
  • Home is where I’m loved unconditionally.
  • Home is where your loved ones are.
  • Home is where you can just be…to relax, reconnect, and recharge.
  • Home is your soft place to fall.
  • Home is wherever we can all be together.
  • Home is shelter, customized to provide spiritual and emotional comfort. It’s as unique as the persons inhabiting it.
  • Home is where we give thanks, recharge, and help each other handle what the fallen world has dealt us.
  • Home has never been a house. Home is where I know and feel I belong.
  • Home is where I can be my whole self.
  • Home is anywhere I hear my mother’s voice.
  • Home is a place many long for. Our home will be with Christ in eternity. Only then will that longing be filled.
  • There is truly no place like home.

As you read those descriptions of home, what phrase is meaningful to you?

What description is your “home,” the place or person with whom you feel safe, secure, free, and at peace?

It’s an important thought to consider heading into the holidays.

This holiday season, rather than putting your needs for security and safety into a holiday, focus on the people or places in your life that are “home” to you all year round. Invest in those relationships or spend time at those places. Unmet holiday expectations are less about temporary disappointment and more about unmet needs of safety and security. Rather than yearning for home for the holidays, find where or who home is to you, and dwell there all year long.

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