By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – This holiday will be a quiet one.
When our children were small, my wife and I would bundle them up for Thanksgiving. We often traveled east, starting out at either my sister’s place in upstate New York, where my birth family would gather, or in northwest Connecticut, where my wife’s parents played host.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
Our kids ran around with their cousins, the children chasing each other around either house until they fell over, exhausted. We’d trundle them into beds, and then the adults would catch up over glasses of wine, often before a nice fire.
Time moves on, though.
The kids – our children and their cousins – have grown and scattered to spots all over the United States, Canada and Europe. Just in terms of logistics, pulling them together has become more complicated.
But there’s another factor involved.
As the years have passed and the children have grown, they have come to see Thanksgiving as a time and a place to reacquaint themselves with … home.
Our daughter, our first-born, went away to college in North Carolina this year. She hasn’t been back to the house where she grew up since my wife and I helped to move her into her dormitory.
We FaceTime with her every week.
She makes clear in those chats that she loves the college where she’s studying, that she’s meeting fascinating new friends, that she enjoys expanding her horizons.
But she misses things.
She wants to see her Indiana friends, go to a favorite restaurant, reconnect with her room.
She tells her brother, her mother and me she misses us, but she grows teary when she talks about our family dog, Dewey. Her voice softens to a whisper when she describes how she wants to sit in front of the fire with Dewey on her lap while she reads.
Because then she’ll know she’s home.
Our son is not yet college age, but he’s begun thinking about where he wants to go. His older sister’s departure has taught him that one part of his life will end soon, and another will begin. He’s begun the journey of stepping away from boyhood and into manhood.
So, the rituals of home speak to him, too.
He loves to have the dog sleep on him while he stretches out for a nap in the family room. He likes to hang out in the basement, surrounded by paraphernalia of the Cleveland Indians, his favorite baseball team. Often, over dinner, he asks my wife and me to tell stories about him and his sister when they were little.
Come Thanksgiving morning, our son and our daughter will sleep in.
When they wake, we may take the dog for a walk through the neighborhood. I’ll build a fire in the fireplace. My daughter will read in front of it, enticing Dewey to climb onto her lap for a good snooze. She’ll coo at and pet him between chapters.
We will eat well, and a lot.
My son will stretch out on the sofa to watch football – and beg Dewey to join him. He’ll stroke Dewey’s fur as they glance at the screen, and even as both drift off.
This is as it should be.
When my wife and I were new parents, we still thought of home as some place we had left and the holidays as a time to return to that home.
But, as life moved along, home became less something we inherited and more something we built, a place to raise our children, a nest from which they can fly when it is time for them to find and build their own homes with their own families.
Ours is not an uncommon story.
Millions of Hoosiers and Americans can tell similar stories of taking root, letting go, taking root again, letting go again. In all the tumult of this world and age, it is comforting to think of the things that don’t change.
A fire on a cold day still warms and soothes. A dog’s love is more relaxing than a cup of hot chocolate.
Children grow up, but the memories of them in their younger days linger in their parents’ hearts like friendly ghosts.
And home, wherever it is, is a reason to be grateful, simply because it is … home.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.