Saturday, February 17 , 2018, 6:51 pm | Fair 58º


Paul Burri: Going Home for Christmas

At what point is where you are now considered 'home'?

In November 1950, when I was 20 years old, I left New York City and came to California to visit a childhood friend. My friend was working a full-time job, so I soon found that I was alone and on my own. I got bored and got a job. (I also got a girlfriend who later became my wife.)

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

A few months later, I was drafted and served two years in the Army. When I was discharged, I returned to Los Angeles, went back to work for the same company and started a family. A quick calculation would show that I have been living and working in California for more than 61 years (which is also a clue to how old I am).

So, what does all that have to do with “Going Home for Christmas”? The operative word here is home.

I have been back to New York several times during all those years, but never once have I said — or even thought of it as — going home. I’ve been living here for 61 years. Where is my home, California or New York?

Yet I often hear people say, “I am going home for Christmas” or “I’m going home for summer vacation.” These are people who, like me, have been living in California for the greater part of their lives. How long will they have to live here before they consider it home?

Just recently I came across a similar situation to the going home anomaly. I was at a function that included a lot of people living in the United States who were from various countries. One woman with whom I was talking about customs and traditions kept saying things such as, “In my country, we do it this way.” A little later in our conversation, I discovered that the woman had been living in the United States for more than 14 years.

My question is, how long will she have to live here before she considers the United States her country?

To answer my own question, I suppose it is the emotional connections, the relatives still back there and the childhood memories that make people think of Cleveland or New York City, or Turkey or Egypt as home.

But I still wonder when they will start to think about here as home.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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