Over the holidays, my family and I decided that we should go home to surprise those we left there three years ago when we made our way across two countries to find adventure here in Arizona. We packed our bags and made the jaunt - via Air Canada Rouge and a rental car that smelled suspiciously like "medical" marijuana - to where we used to call home.
It's a strange thing to go back to your roots. There are so many things that seem familiar. The places you used to go, the houses you used to live in, the people you used to fill your days with. As we wound our way across town from visit to visit, it was as if I was driving by memory, I barely needed to think about the next right or left turn.
We've been gone for three years and yet the world we left behind still has the same routines. My mom shops on the same day each week at the same shopping center. She and Dad go to get their hair cut on Tuesdays. Our friends are still living each day as when we left them, their kids growing and thriving. Our church opens its doors every Sunday to welcome people, any people, looking for a place to spend time with their Faith. But my most favorite routine, happens on Christmas Eve.
After the hustle and bustle of a festive and busy Christmas service featuring all the traditional players - Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the sheep and a very sweet, but awkward camel - people return to the church at 10:30 p.m. to welcome the season with a celebration of music and light. The service is simple - music, communion and a message filled with the story of Christmas. Then the part I love the most, the lights in the sanctuary are dimmed and one by one, each parishioner lights a candle by passing the flame from person to person until the room is lit entirely by candlelight. It's at this moment when the word "peaceful" really resonates with me.
With Christmas behind us, we spent our days moving between houses, visiting the ones we love until the time came to say our goodbyes. As we settled into our seats my son looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I am so happy that we are going home." Funny how things had changed in just a week. At the start, we were "going home" to visit and now we were "going home" to Arizona.
As I look back on our trip I realize, home can mean so many things. More than places or people. More than houses and routines. Home is a feeling. It's the places you find yourself, the places you make memories and the places where you find joy and peace - and the lesson I learned while travelling this holiday season is that I am blessed to have so many places that I can call "home".