That's what Fredrick Buechner says in his book The Longing for Home. "I suspect that those who as children never had such a place in actuality had instead some kind of dream of such a home, which for them played an equally crucial part."
Few of us have the same home from beginning to end. We stretch the boundaries of the word when, like me, we go "home" for Christmas to different houses in different cities to an ever-shifting group of people - grandparents gone, and maybe parents; family members divorced, remarried, bringing in someone new. Maybe, at least in some setting, you the newcomer - hoping to be accepted and to feel that you belong in this place or with these people. Is this home? Is this family?
And even those we know more or less from the beginning of life until its end are apt to change into something unfamiliar, as we ourselves change.
Ideas like home and family may become something of a polite fiction - words we use to describe things that are too complicated for such short syllables.
In all his peripatetic childhood, the one house that of all others felt like home to Buechner was his grandparents' large, clapboard house in a suburb of Pittsburgh. Something about the place - and especially about his grandmother, who more than anyone else "inhabited" the house - suggested timelessness and permanence, beauty, serenity and love.
I love Buechner's essays. He captures and is honest about nostalgia and longing in a way that helps me accept both the ways life satisfies and the ways it doesn't. That you cannot go "back home" but it's okay that you still wish you could, that something in you needs this.
"All of this makes me wonder about the home that my wife and I created for ourselves and our three daughters, both of us coming from the homes of our childhood and consciously or unconsciously drawing on those memories as we went about making a new home for the family we were becoming."
"It was the little world we created to be as safe as we knew how to make it for ourselves and for our children from the great world outside which I more than my wife was afraid of especially for our children's sake because I remembered so vividly the dark and dangerous times of my own childhood, which were very much part of me still and continue to be.
"In that Vermont house I found refuge from the dark, as I always had, mainly in books, which, unlike people, can always be depended upon to tell the same stories in the same way and are always there when you need them and can always be set aside when you need them no longer.
"What my wife brought to the home we were creating was entirely different. The chief delight of her childhood in New Jersey had been not indoor things, as with me, but outdoor things. She had loved horses and animals of all kinds and growing things in gardens and almost by nature knew as much about trees and birds and flowers as most people have to learn from books and then struggle to remember.
"She planted a fifty-by-hundred-foot vegetable garden and flowers all over the place. She saw to it that each of our children had not only horses to ride but other animals to love and take care of - for Sharmy, Aracana chickens, who laid eggs of three different colors; for Dinah, a pig who grew to the size of a large refrigerator and didn't suffer fools gladly; and for Katherine, some fawn-colored Toggenberg goats who skittered around the barnyard dropping their berries and gazing out at the hills through the inscrutable slits of their eyes.">> Think about what makes a place feel like home for you. Where or with whom do you feel that sense of belonging and that the place or people belong to you? Where or how do you find or try to create what Buechner calls "refuge from the dark"? Are the strategies different for others in your family?
"...Like everybody else, what we furnished our home with was ourselves."