back from home

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There should be a word for the specific sweetness of going home.

For the familiarity of the geography that’s like your oldest pair of jeans.
For the first moment you see your mom walk through the airport doors after only hearing her voice for seven months.
For wrapping your arms around your dad and hearing his breath go in and out of his strong lungs, fueling his happy, “Hi, sweetie.”
For hours later returning to the airport to pick up your sister, both of you running with exaggerated awkwardness toward one another so when you reach each other, you collapse into laughter and hugs.
For hearing your brother’s laugh and seeing the wide smile that always comes with it.
For the quiet, matter-of-fact humor of your brother-in-law, touching your sister’s long hair, and hearing your wee niece say, “Hold me, Auntie Jo!” in her impossibly clear voice.
For doing it all over again with Brad’s family and realizing how sweet it is to have two amazing tribes to call your own.


My mom emailed my siblings and I a poem this morning. In free verse, it said we give thanks for these run-of-the-mill moments. She modified it to include some of the things from this past week that only our family experienced. Moments that are probably cheap to other people: Jill packing only carry-on bags. Luci cradling the Little People baby Jesus from our nativity set in her dirty blanket. More.

Two lines from the poem say what I don’t know how to say about being home:

Drinking the wine
needing the bread

At home, we drunk the wine of unconditional love, inside jokes, spontaneous singing, baby giggles, and extravagant mealtimes. We all needed the bread of being together. It fortifies us for everything else.


In the cab on the way back to our apartment, I looked at Brad and was so thankful that he is the part of my family I get to take with me everywhere. This marriage, this man is a gift I don’t deserve.


Before we went to Iowa, my dad and I made plans to “cook ambitiously” while I was home. Here’s just a bit of what we made, with links where possible.

Deb Perelman’s 44-Clove Garlic Soup, a favorite of mine that was so rich, it should just be an appetizer.
Red-wine marinated beef heart (not as weird as it sounds–my family’s organ meat of choice).
This Stilton-laced cheesecake served with amber ale–delicious, though I made it as written and my stomach suffered afterward (but it was SO GOOD). Those who eat sugar and pasteurized dairy all the time shouldn’t have any problems.
Moscow mules in my sister’s vintage copper mugs.

image: My mom’s Christmas tree, always the most beautiful in my eyes.




  1. Andrea

    It sounds like your visit home was beyond wonderful! Will you be back for Christmas?

  2. joannalinberg

    Not this year. It’s Christmas in Cali for us!

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