The Long Way Home


"What is home if the road that draws you away from it is more familiar, more comforting? Home is what you find when you get there."

-Colleen J. McElroy, A Long Way from St. Louis

December 23, 2011, Washington, DC: And so it begins for so many people. This annual trek. This long drive home for the holidays. Nobody wants to see a photo of the New Jersey Turnpike. No one wants to be reminded of that short stretch of Delaware that's inevitably oh so long. Instead, picture a cheerful Woody wagon venturing out for a happy surf trip, playing Christmas tunes through a piney wood of sparkly white lights. There. A much more pleasant depiction of holiday travel.

And yet what would this annual ritual be without planes, trains and automobiles? It's hard to remember what it was like to stay put for the holidays. For those of us who don't live near family, this is routine. This is comforting. This is part of the holiday experience. We pack our bags and we head out. It's what we're used to. It's what we do.

Only through travel do we emerge on the other side, into those other hometowns of ours that are filled with family traditions, into those places we know like the back of our hands. We are lucky to feel at home in so many places, baggage and all.