Going Home, Chopping Trees, and Tearing Down Walls

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Headed home for holidays? Join the jolly parade (of long lines, layovers, and hopefully minimal to no delays)! Much like the impending “Hellidays” as I affectionally call them, we can’t exactly avoid the sleigh ride “Home” every once in a while in this journey called life.

But what exactly is “Home?”

At least four states and seven cities away from my original “Home,” the “self-proclaimed gypsy” as they call me (although I credit Mrs. Annika Braun for that epithet )… I feel like I have been on an unnamed mission to break down the bricks and walls of any sort of conventional definition and idea of “Home.”

“Tear down the wall!” -Pink Floyd

Is “Home” the very structure you spent most of your childhood years growing up in?

Is “Home” the edifice is which you now reside?

Your address now? Then? Or later?

Or is home more relative of an idea…

Perhaps the city in which you were born?

Maybe the state in which most of your family still resides?

The region you roam?

The country you pledge allegiance to?

Or simply is it, wherever you keep your beer cold?

Beer Fridge
Big Bear Cabin Life. Beer anyone?

For me, “Home” is where I meet up with my one and only younger brother Chase, where we get correlating Pink Floyd tattoos at the tattoo shop behind our old elementary school; “Tippecanoe” (Thanks Cornerstone!), and where we reconcile the many years of bickering, fighting, and fist fights over a solid session of Super Nintendo, before we go out for Halloween and scare the shit out of people with our inherent weirdness.

Homage to the Wall
Homage to the Wall
Home is where you keep your Donkey Kong collection.
Home is where you keep your Donkey Kong collection.
A very Kleppin Holiday.
A very Kleppin Holiday.

(I was lucky to get my “home for the holidays” fix done early this year for the holiday of all “Hellidays,” Halloween, and to also celebrate and kick off the first running of the PNC Milwaukee Running Festival, a marathon in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin!)

But at this time of year, and for blogging purposes, I will try my best to get a little more “Christmas”-ish for the rest of you that celebrate further into the winter season.

I would say, “Home” is where you are headed (or where your head wishes it could be) for the holidays. Most likely this is a place of the past, that houses in some way or another, people you care about, and people that have contributed something to the current make-up of your persona.

Wrap your head around the idea, (along with the tinsel and holly), but “Home” is where your roots are. Imagine you were some sort of Christmas tree, put on display donning a fancy little skirt and flashy lights, living out life in some strange place, but longing for the veins and sustenance that first provided you that spark of life. Near or far, a connection with your original stomping grounds is in order every now and then if you want to fulfill a life that is a bit more prolonged and meaningful than the one hit wonder, chopped down Christmas tree in the room next door. It’s good to recognize and recall what originally provided you sustenance, as well as what makes your pine needles sharp and menacing to some, soft and comforting to others, and what might ultimately connect wires to light the star upon your head.

Tear down the tree!
Tear down the tree!
Oh Christmas Tree!
Oh Christmas Tree! (This year’s rendition of Holiday Spirit.)

 

As one of the top seeds for the quickly approaching marathon Olympic Trials come February, I find myself smack in the middle of full-on training during all these festive family and friendly gatherings… as we all come together to raise a glass and cheers to the end of the Shelf Elf shit and to the birthday boy, Jesus.

Because of this untimely timing (and from past experiences during the Hellidays as well), I recognize and sympathize that “Home for the Holidays” is not always the relaxing experience Hallmark makes it out to be. Outside of the Winter Wonderland the holiday elves try to create, we also all have goals and productivity to attend to… and most of them don’t appear magically, pre-packaged and wrapped underneath a Christmas tree- no matter how hard we may wish. As much as I enjoy the novelty of my holiday presents, I am a little more focused on my game day presence (come February 13th 2016).

Hence I succumb to 20 miler days that begin like this:

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

(And end in frozen sweat and tears.)

Frozen tears of joy.
Frozen tears of joy.

However, I am not here writing to help reinforce guilt-ridden feelings and bury you in a snow pile (or balls) of remorse…

Balls. It's Christmas.
Balls. It’s Christmas.

Instead, I am wishing you all well on the holiday travels and hoping to help guide you in embracing “Home.” (And also, the “Hellidays.”)

Here are my Do’s and Don’ts for conquering the Helliday season:

DON’T:

-Talk Politics.

(Especially if Trump is spoken of favorably among parental lineage in public forums. Sorry Lakefront Brewery for the unplanned, minor disturbance and debate… the beer was excellent!!)

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-Stay where the leftovers are left.

(If you’re anything like me… with absolutely NO self-control at midnight and NO self-control at breakfast, pre-workout.)

Breakfast of Champions! Pumpkin pie and a "Whipping."
Breakfast of Champions! Pumpkin pie and a “Whipping.”

-Entrust your bed and hard-earned rest to the liberty of your childhood pet.

(They have grown accustomed to a life without your presence… and they remember the haunts of their past.)

Santa Paws!
Jingle Bells, It’s Tinkerbelle… dressed as Santa Paws!

 

DO:

-Ditch the stress of preparing a full holiday meal.

(Order pizza or take-out instead! Even the glutards can find something on the menu and throw in a few extra bucks to pay for their special flour- Yes, that may have been me. This minimizes the cooking, cleaning, and prep-work so you can enjoy quality family time.)

Some Wisconsin sausage and cheese, with no gluten please!
Some Wisconsin sausage and cheese, with no gluten please!

-Acknowledge the history and culture of your hometown… And be thankful and supportive to those that preserve it!

(My brother and I visited the newly reopened and beautifully restored Avalon Theater to watch the premiere of Jurassic World, as we relived memories of our own childhood in a venue that has and is sure to provide many more memories for Milwaukee. *Advice: see Star Wars here.)

Making Memories, Reliving Memories
Making Memories, Reliving Memories

-Meet up with old friends.

(Laugh and reminesce about old memories! Remind each other how far you have come, and how far you are capable of going!)

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20 years of friendship. Strong.
20 years of friendship. Strong.

-Visit the old stomping grounds and relive the glory days.

(I was thrilled to bid good luck to this year’s flock of High School State Cross Country Qualifiers. It is fun to see old traditions continue, and new ones take form. I was also amazed to see how I can inspire new, young runners to chase after their dreams in the same boundaries that I once built my foundation on.)

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Visiting the younger Rockets
When we were young...
When we were young…

-Get inspired by hometown heroes.

(Even in the pouring rain and recovering from Guillian Barre syndrome, Ruth Lunz kicked ass and provided a ray of sunshine in my life at the Milwaukee Running Festival. I also enjoyed meeting and walking a mile with the owner of Performance Running at this event. It is so great to see the running community take shape in Milwaukee! Now I know the sort of people that make up my “Home” town, and what I need to do to live up to that and represent “Home.”)

Ruth Lunz!
Ruth Lunz!

There is so much more I want to add from my own amazing experiences home this past year… but I have already written too much. I trust you are all well on your way to enjoy the quickly approaching “Helliday,” in your own personal way.

No matter what you may call “Home” this year for the “Hellidays,” I urge you to ENJOY the experience. TEAR DOWN THE WALL of adulthood, work, and responsibility that we build up to be so important, and and make what you can of this special time of the year. Family, friends, “Home” and the “Hellidays” may build you up more than you expect.