Coming home is a ritual for many people when their living conditions change. I did not expect to perform this ritual because I have changed. Memories of my childhood home were not all positive: I remembered a very conservative small town with almost no diversity (except for the summer help brought in to work in the blueberry fields) and not very welcoming to those like me with no Dutch heritage. Only aging parents and sibling appeals drew me back.
Two years have passed since I made that difficult decision; astonishingly, they have been two great years! I have found the truth in the 2009 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index which placed Holland second on their list of healthiest, happiest cities in America. An ABC World News article from February 17, 2010, said, “Residents here know that solutions to problems are not found in the maze of ideas that come out of Washington, but from the rewards that come from caring about their neighbors. The Dutch, who founded this city 163 years ago, have a word for this — gezellig — which translate to ‘close-knit community.”
Not only is it a close-knit community, embracing aliens like me, but it exudes natural beauty along the length of its lake shore and tributaries and six miles of tulips blossoming during the annual Tulip Time festival.
Even with all the natural resources and activities, it’s the people that have made coming home priceless, the renewed relationships with high school friends and the new relationships within groups dedicated to becoming good neighbors to long-time residents and newcomers.
If you have rejected “coming home” because you have changed, consider the possibility that your hometown has changed even more and may now be your ideal home.