Greener BeeGreen HolidaysJoLayne Green: Back home from the holidays

“There’s no place like home.” “You can’t go home again.” “Home is where you hang your hat.” “Home is where the heart is.”

As I write this, we have just finished celebrating Christmas and are in that lull between Christmas and New Year’s. For us, though, it isn’t a lull at all. In fact, I welcome the days that do have lulls.

Since we have had our own children, we have always spent the actual holiday at home, partly because my husband has had to work some years. After Christmas Day, though, we begin a marathon of visiting.

First we went south of Pittsburgh to the Mon Valley to visit with my in-laws for two days. Then back up I-79 for a couple of days at home to regroup before heading to Buffalo to visit with my extended family.

Every year as we make the trek up and down I-79 and across I-90, I think how fitting it is that we live in Meadville — the midpoint of our family history.

My parents were born and raised in Buffalo, where many relatives still live. I was born in Ohio but moved to the south hills of suburban Pittsburgh when I was a baby and stayed in Pittsburgh for college until leaving when I got married.

I’ve written before that when we moved here I thought it was kind of funny that the NFL’s rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers played out right here in Meadville. Throw in some Buffalo fans, and Crawford County is a regular melting pot of professional sports fandom. It makes me feel right at home. I kind of feel like a melting pot of the region — a little Ohio, a little Buffalo and a lot of Pittsburgh.

After my parents moved away from Pittsburgh, though, I had little opportunity to go and stay for a few days. We travel down for various events, but I feel less like a Pittsburgher. More of our visits are about 45 minutes south of the city to see my in-laws, and I travel to Buffalo more than Pittsburgh for family functions.

This Christmas, on our way home from our visit with my in-laws, I realized my husband was taking a bit of a detour, and 30 minutes later I was in my old neighborhood. We drove down my street, and I was happy to see the current owners of my childhood home had a porch swing. To me, it is nearly an outrage to not have a porch swing if one has a porch, and it is one thing I wish I had at my home now. The flag flying off the porch was a nice touch, too. The house looked happy and well lived in.

I noticed I didn’t feel that twinge of sadness I sometimes felt when driving by in previous years. I never really got one last visit to my house, and I used to long to look inside again and wish I had taken more photos of the interior.

Maybe now I realize all the photos I need are in my memories. Maybe now I fully realize that home is where I am — in Meadville — right in the middle.

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