Averyt: Home for the Holidays

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(HOST) Tomorrow, many people around the country will participate in the Annual National Day of Listening. As part of that effort, commentator Anne Averyt tells how her Thanksgiving celebration today will include the opportunity to hear some new stories.  In the old song, "The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh" home for the holidays – but in the 21st century, it’s easy to wonder, "Where is home?"
(AVERYT) What does it mean – a "sense of place"?  Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again; and someone else – maybe Bill Bryson – said you never really leave home, no matter how far you go.
Paris is my heart’s home.  It’s the place of my imagination, the city that infuses my soul with dreams and hopes.  It’s a real city I visit not nearly enough, and it’s also a fantasy, a spirit I carry inside me.  
Vermont is the place of my reality, the place I have called home for nearly three decades.  But to others not fortunate enough to live in this state of plenty, my reality is  often a wistful dream, the place of their Norman Rockwell/Robert Frost imagination – a place they would like to call home.
This Thanksgiving, for the first time in my long life, I will celebrate turkey and give thanks for family far away.  No one will be coming home to Vermont, and I won’t travel to be with my Philadelphia relatives.  We’ll spend the holiday apart, as life moves us all like pieces on a chess board.  
So this Thanksgiving will be a time for me to connect with friends rather than family, to be included in a 21st century celebration that brings together neighbors rather than fathers and sons, aunts and cousins.  
Today I’ll be traveling down the highway to Montpelier, welcomed by friends with open hearts and open arms.  But I’ve also decided to open my home and my oven over the holiday weekend and welcome others who are living alone in this large neighborhood we call greater Burlington.  I make a mean apple pie, and there’s nothing like next day turkey gumbo.   
The last Thursday in November is a time, as always, to give thanks for abundance – for food and friends, for love and family near and far away.  It’s also a time to reflect, to look around and see beyond ourselves, connect with someone who, like each of us, would welcome a smile, a handshake, a hug.
Perhaps in our peripatetic society that’s the new version of "Home is where the heart is"; that when we open our hearts the geographic location of home keeps on growing.  
I’ll miss my sons this Thanksgiving, and my siblings.  My brother says the good news is he’ll have more dessert without me there.  I’ll miss the traditional holiday stories passed between Mollie’s green bean casserole and Keith’s corn pudding, but I’ll be hearing new stories at my friends’ home.  I’ll also be collecting some new "old holiday traditions" there and creating some new ones for myself.  

In fact, maybe this Thanksgiving, I’ll really celebrate – and not come home until the cows do.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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