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"Home is where the heart is."

— Pliny the Elder (writer, military man)

I have one. Maybe you have one too. Plenty of military families do. It might be framed and sitting on a shelf, or perhaps hanging on the wall. It proclaims: "Home is where the (fill in your branch of service here) sends us."

This is not a statement of resignation for our family, but a statement of determination. Determination is what it takes to keep the home fires burning when we are far from the familiar, sometimes separated by deployment — and when we don’t even have a fireplace.

Much has been written about the nature of home and how to find it. Here are thoughts from some well-known people and some well-traveled military spouses:

"Home is where you gather courage, store up hope, build your faith and share your joy," said Rita Glenn, whose husband is in the Army.

"It’s not a place; it is the people who surround you and shelter you with their love," Rita said via e-mail. "For me, it means that wherever I am in this world, I can always feel at home."

"It’s not the home I love, but the life that is lived there."

— Elsie De Wolfe (interior decorator)

"Home is where the Christmas decorations are," said Air Force wife Janice Codispoti.

"I grew up in the same house and have fond memories of Christmases there. Opening up presents by the fire on the cold tile floor, the stockings always in the exact same place by the fire, the tree in front of the picture window, the banister decorated — always differently, but always the same banister," Janice wrote.

"But my kids have lived in so many houses; there isn’t one place that comes to mind when they think of their family Christmas. But those Christmas decorations — I am reminded each year of how important they are to my kids — and even to (my husband) Joe!"

"Even as we are unpacking each decoration or ornament — before they are even placed in an appropriate spot — these things speak of home to my family. If I decide my tastes have changed, or something is worn out beyond its beauty, or I can’t find a good place to put something and hint at getting rid of it or just not using it this year, there is a swift and fierce uprising at my house!"

"For my girls, there is no one place that comes to mind when they think of Christmas. Our Christmas decorations transform each new house in each new place into a powerful trigger of memories and tradition.

"We build our memories not on a place, but on these traditions. Home is wherever the Air Force sends us, and we have built wonderful memories in each place.

"Christmastime is when whatever house we are living in really becomes ‘home,’ " Janice said.

"The journey is my home."

— Muriel Rukeyser (poet, activist)

"Home is where we tuck our toes in at night," said Army wife Cheryl Stark.

"We, like most military families, have lived in so many different places that home has become a subjective term," Cheryl wrote. "It no longer signifies a set place but more a mindset. When we are together as a family, we are ‘home.’ "

"Home isn’t where our house is, but wherever we are understood."

— Christian Morgenstern (poet)

"Home is where my kids aren’t embarrassed to let me lavish them with hugs and kisses," said Felicia Salgado, an Air Force veteran and spouse.

"Home is the nicest word there is."

— Laura Ingalls Wilder (writer, pioneer)

And that says it all.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls

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