A text box that says "Ultimately we pick where our home is without even realizing it" is superimposed over an image of a fire

Opinion columnist Jeffrey Birch encourages readers to appreciate the places in their lives that feel like home.

Next week, almost the entire University of Kansas campus will be going home for the holidays, whether it be for just a day or the whole break. What does it mean to “go home”? For some people, if you just asked them where home was, they might give a different answer than if you had asked them where they live, and for some you might get a third answer if you ask where they’re from.

Some would call a place home, but even then, different people would describe different places as home. Some people would describe their childhood home. Others would list their dorm room, apartment or house they currently live in. Others still might describe a place they have never lived in as home. I’ve run across several people who describe this university itself as home. The actual place they’re currently living in is inconsequential because it all revolves around and serves their time spent on campus or doing campus related activities.

So what ultimately makes something a home? There are a lot of cheesy posters or motivational lines that try and define it: “Home is where the heart is,” “A house is built with boards and beams, a home is built with hopes and dreams” — you get the idea.

Ultimately, we pick where our home is without even realizing it. Home is the place where you consciously choose to spend your time and energy. When you have had a rough day, or when you’re on a long trip, the place you just can’t wait to get back to is probably the place you’d ultimately call home.

While for some people home is definitely a place, it’s less clear cut for others. Sometimes you move so often that it’s hard to feel settled in a location. Maybe your parents moved after you went off to college, so your childhood home is no longer available to you. Maybe the place you live is unpleasant for one reason or another. Life is sometimes, most of the time, messy and confusing. Defining something as nebulous as home is never easy even in the best of circumstances.

The grand equalizer is the people you share your life with. Even though your childhood home is gone, your parents are still there with open arms. Even though you hate your apartment, you have that one friend who’s always willing to have you come over. Everyone has people in their life that make life worth living, that make you feel welcomed, warm and, ultimately, at home.

So whether your home is a big house full of family, a small apartment with a cute dog, or at a table surrounded by friends, I hope you have the chance to go home for the holidays.

Jeffrey Birch is a senior from Wichita studying accounting.