Posted by: Kate | December 22, 2008

Pray for Me

I’m in the midst of a frantic frenzy of packing/wrapping/organizing, because somehow it just dawned on me that we are leaving tomorrow afternoon for almost two weeks at my mother’s house, and we were woefully unprepared.

I still have to do some baking, appropriate concealment of gifts, and packing my own clothes and books/knitting for the trip, but the kids have each packed their bags and toys. I did a quick check by numbers, but made not the slightest effort to double-check any details like weather-appropriateness or matchy-matchingness of the kids’ choices… so if you see a couple of kids in orange shorts and purple sweatshirts wandering around upstate New York, you’ll know whose they are.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time; we started planning it back in October. Put in for vacation time from work, back when I thought such a thing would matter (but, gee, now they’ll not have to scramble to cover my shifts over the holidays, such a relief for them)… started planning visits to relatives… alerted friends in the area… but now, when it looms immediately ahead, I’ve suddenly realized that it means spending about a dozen days in my hometown. I was miserable in my hometown. It means being in close daily contact with my mother, whom I love and appreciate and yet it’s not a coincidence that I live a few states away. It means a long stretch of time in which my children will be expected to sustain some semblance of appropriate, semi-public behavior.

If I return home sane and not an alcoholic, I will consider the trip a smashing success.

And it makes me wonder, do most people feel this same enveloping sense of relief when they realize that they no longer have to live in the place where they were teenagers? Or am I in the minority, with most of you willing to consider the prospect of returning to your childhood home as a permanent condition?


  1. Why such a long visit? It’s not *that far a drive from your home.

    We have a 3 day (usually) rule for relative visits. I think if we lived across the country, it might be different. But anywhere that’s a day’s drive, we go often enough (relatively) that there’s no need to camp out that long or entertain that long. It can get rough no matter how much you love the other folks.

    [So, you’ll be soooo close to you MIL (again, relatively) you could always break up your trip with a visit up here. 😉 I’d even buy you a cup of coffee.]

    Have fun, and Merry Christmas!

  2. It’s funny– I left home at 18 and moved halfway across the country. Over time I got both closer and further away (I even left the country at one point). Now I not only live in my hometown, I live in the house belonging to my grandparents. If returning to childhood meant living with them, I’d have done it in a second. It’s strange to be here but to have it be different– new furniture, new people, now it’s MY home rather than the home of my grandparents…. Trippy sometimes.

  3. I was really happy to leave home and go to college five hours away. Five years later it still feels very weird and awkward to come home for breaks, although it’s not as painful as it used to be (what with the whole teenager “you don’t understand me!” stuff going on). I am applying for jobs all over the country. I don’t really care where I end up, but I know I want to be in (or quite near) a large city, which is not at all like my hometown. I’d be pretty upset if I had to move back here.

  4. When he joined the air force at the age of 17, my dad pretty much sealed the fate of his family to never live near extended family members. I grew up thinking that when one became an adult, one moved away from one’s hometown and only visited once a year. Then my family moved to Lawrence in 1989. We’re all still here. Both siblings and their families are in town, as are my parents. I think I prefer things this way. I like that we’re all within 5 miles of each other. Thankfully, we’re all really aware of personal space and privacy, so no “popping over” unannounced. The weird thing is that I never wanted to stay in Lawrence. It was only after I met Shane that I decided I really wanted to live here permanently.

    I don’t know what I’d do if my parents ever decided to move (they have talked about moving to Colorado). I think we’d all have to pack up and move with them.

  5. My parents moved away from the town we lived in for most of my formative years when I was in college, so going “home” isn’t really an option. And Christmas where they live now doesn’t really hold any special memories for me. So I don’t mind that we spend Christmas here at home. Everyone is coming here this year, which is just fine with me. Especially since yet another one of my children has come down with the stomach plague.

  6. Oh yes –

    When I used to come home from college, I’d feel this heavy cloud compress down on top of me whenever I entered the town.

    Now that I’m an adult and live elsewhere, I actually enjoy going there because I know its only for a short duration and that I have my own own somewhere else. The town seems quite cute and quaint to me now.

  7. I live 14 minutes door-to-door from the house I grew up in, but two towns away. Some days it is wonderful because I know where to find anything and everything, other days it is completely stifling and I want to run away. I set firm boundaries with family, and I have a very strict “no popping by without calling first” rule.

    But hey, you’ll be in my neck of the proverbial woods…B has 12 days off and we could use a break from the families, if you need a break from yours. Come visit!

  8. “…do most people feel this same enveloping sense of relief when they realize that they no longer have to live in the place where they were teenagers?”


  9. We usually make a yearly trip home, and every time, I remember why I’m glad we don’t live there. We’ll never move back there. Maybe 3-4 hours from there, but no closer. And I love my mother, but each time we visit, I get a little bit closer to just reserving a hotel room instead of staying with my parents.

  10. Visit, yes. Live, no. Since I’m like 26 years out from those awful HS years, I no longer have the same gut reactions. Only a handful of my peers live there today, and most of them are people I wouldn’t mind hanging out with. And in fact there are really some very cool things about the town I grew up in, however, and in many ways it’s gotten cooler since I left (though I’d like to think the two are unrelated).

    But. The place is so incredibly geographically undesirable (miserable summers, nasty winters, nothing to redeem it), for sure I won’t be moving back in this lifetime. Unless climate change ends up bringing coastline to southern Ohio…

  11. I consider not only my hometown, but for many miles surrounding it, to be a cursed, awful place that I don’t even like to visit. So yeah, I’m with you.

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