Guest Contributor Wendy Unsworth
This week, like many, many people, I will be traveling home for Christmas. There will be several stops along the way. Purchasing tickets, planning the whole thing out, has prompted me to ponder on where home is for me these days and in a wider sense, the meaning of home.
I have always been a wanderer! Unlike my siblings and wider family who have all stayed in our hometown, on the Lincolnshire coast of England throughout their lives, I moved away in my twenties and just kept going.
I think it must be that way for many who leave the family area; they go seeking something new and then move again and again.
I’m certainly not complaining; travel, I believe, has greatly enriched my life. It has also taught me a great deal. There have been wonderful experiences, excitement and times that simply remind me how precious life and health are.
No one who has seen a Zambian mother, nursing a child, sick with malaria, laid low during a military coup, or been cut off by flood waters, will ever feel that they have a right or need to endlessly moan about the late bus or the long queue at the post office. Or whether the supermarket is going to change the stock around again so that you can’t find a damn thing…
So, home to me has been many places and, in all the most important ways, those places are still home. When I think of them, I miss them all, and if I were there right now, I know I would feel part of it again, and feel as though I was home.
At present, I am spending half of my time in Scotland where my ‘official’ home is (that’s where all the bills land!) but also a lot of time in the Alentejo region of Portugal where my son and his beautiful young family live. This area of Portugal is dotted with cork oak forest, and small hamlets and the pace of Life is slow.
In Scotland, I have the advantage of living in a similarly, small community (with my daughter and son-in-law) but also within easy reach of beautiful, historic Edinburgh or the magnificent and wild Highlands.
I am not enamored of concrete jungles and always feel at my best with nature around me. So rather than think of home I like to think of my special places and the special people who inhabit them. Some of them I will probably never go back to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think of them. Amongst those people, family, friends and sometimes strangers, I know I would always feel welcome and a part of their world.
So wherever you are this Christmas, in the heat of the sun or knee-deep in snow, I wish you the company of those dear to you and the feeling that you are home. A glass of wine, a gift or two and, of course, a good book!
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