Homecoming gives us a chance to reconnect

Published 11:19 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

When I lived in the southwest of Texas, one thing I missed the most was the changing of the seasons.

There is something magical about anticipating a new season whether it be fall colors, winter snows or spring flowers. Life is richer when there is a rhythm of certainty we can depend upon.

Fall brings with it that annual tradition called ‘homecoming.’ High school homecomings include a major football game, welcoming back alumni and former residents, as well as giving students a chance to dress up for a formal dance and celebrations. These are exciting moments when we get to reacquaint ourselves with people who touched our lives in ways we didn’t appreciate when we were younger.

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Along with the excitement can be some anxiety: “Will anyone recognize me?”

“Will I recognize anyone else?” “Will they notice how much weight I’ve gained  or how much hair I’ve lost?” And the most fearful question, “Will they still like me?”

Sometimes we worry that we won’t fit any longer. After all, many years may have passed by and so much of life has influenced who we are today. But is it possible that we can remain the same in our core while becoming different in other ways?

On my first visit home after moving to Texas, I was thrilled when my mom and sister Linda picked me up at the airport.

As we drove home, we laughed and told stories and talked until our throats were dry. After a while, my sister leaned over to my mom and whispered, “See, I told you she’d be the same old Nora.” It struck me that my mother had actually been concerned that somehow I would have thought I had outgrown my own people, those who molded me in my most vulnerable years.

Sometimes, we worry about stupid choices we might have made in our childhood/adolescent years. We think others will only view us as that impulsive 17-year-old and not allow us to be the wiser more experienced adult we are now. We might even worry that town gossip will have spread about our failures and disappointments we have endured.

If only we can see what homecoming really is, a chance to reconnect with our foundation. Coming home at its best is recognizing and nurturing your roots while continuing to blossom in life’s adventures. I am convinced that we do not truly appreciate our home until we have distanced ourselves from it — whether by miles or by years.

Young people, homecoming isn’t just about having the best spray tan, the most beautiful dress or the best date for the dance. It’s not about being the cutest cheerleader, the star quarterback or even winning the football game.

Homecoming is coming home. It’s about people. It’s about valuing the people who were part of your growing up and who will always be a part of you, even if you don’t live near them in the future.

So young people, breathe it all in. Pay attention even to things that might seem unimportant today. One day, when you’ve been hit with the middle age spread and have thinning hair, these will be your treasured memories and maybe you will even have learned to value the people who currently drive you crazy.

And older people, when you see someone for the first time in decades at the homecoming events, don’t hold them back in your mind to the version you thought you knew of them. Welcome them home and know that you both have traveled a long journey. Let them come home.


Nora S Lawrence wango Stanger, a County native and Appalachian outreach coordinator for Sinclair Community College, can be reached at norastanger@gmail.com.