I asked No1 Son (almost 8) what 'home' was - "that's easy, it's England. No wait a minute - it's Germany 'cos that's where you were born". So that's nice and easy then - home is where you were born.
But is it so? We're preparing for a trip home.... oops back to the UK. Is it going home? Well that all depends on what you mean by home.... and indeed it's a tricky and delicate topic for expats - actually, probably anybody who's moved away from their parents and where they grew up - but is that just me assuming a definition of 'home'.......
So where to begin? Let's take a look at the OED defines it principally as "the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household" so for us then that would suggest that 'home' is where we currently reside - given that we are with our families (immediate at any rate) and it's where we are permanently (we've no plans to go
If the definition is so straightforward, why then do many expats - me included - often refer to 'going home' - meaning a trip back to the motherland? We're planning our next trip - indeed, I'm off on Monday with the Kindling to visit various friends and relatives, and I often say we're 'going home', I suppose it's the easiest way to describe it. But equally, on our return trip, I won't say 'we're going back to Germany', but that we're 'going home'. Is it possible to have more than one home?
Does how long you've been away make any difference to what you refer to as home? We're fortunate in that at the moment we're not very itinerant - in that we've moved here to Germany but not gone anywhere else (yet. We're reserving judgement on that one!) So we've been settled in one place now for four years and it very definitely feels like home.
There is of course the (very) trashy saying ...."home is where the heart is".... but what does that actually mean? Is my heart left behind with my family in the UK, and my childhood home (not that I had one as we moved around lots as a services family) or is my heart here with my Husband and children?
Too many questions - and definitely not enough wine. But home... well as Paul Young said, it's wherever you lay your hat.....! Is that not so - home is where you make it and what you make it. As an expat, we may use the phrase 'going home' as a convenient descriptor, rather than launching into a full scale explanation - perhaps we should just say going on holiday? Only, it's often far from that!