Home. It’s where we begin and end our days, host our gatherings, act out our private moments. This year, home has meant something more—it’s where we survive, cocoon, stay healthy. Where we rise, have breakfast, then turn the corner into our office, or to the corner of the dining table turned desk. Staying home for the holidays is a mandate, a caring gesture, a compromise. But as much as we buck against staying put, our home is keeping us well, safe, and full. It always has, but maybe we’ve not grasped it before.

We’ve had to change plans this year. Thwarted intentions have required us to act smarter, adapt, and dig in. We needed a life- changing act—a pandemic—to shake things up, to help us see more clearly that we can bloom where we’re planted. That this ground is fertile. That we live in a place of possibility.

Sometimes a creative path isn’t present until we are forced to change. That was the case for pastry chef Vanessa Matonis, who stalled a move to France this year. She is now honing her skills at Bar Margaret, turning out five-star desserts to pair with cocktails both whimsical and classic. Chef Drew Erickson moved back to his native Greenville after training for four years under the eagle eye of Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in the Napa Valley. Now, Erickson has returned to Table 301, the restaurant group that launched his career, with a penchant for the artistry that he learned under Keller’s tutelage. Taylor Montgomery, executive chef at Urban Wren, crafts painterly dishes to pair with the restaurant’s enviable wine list. He utilizes produce grown on his North Carolina farm, where he and his wife live.

This year has forced us to peer more closely at our surroundings, to change course to something surprising—but perhaps better—than we imagined. If we’ve been shown anything, it’s that holding too tightly to plans is not the best use of our energy. We must go with the flow. We’ve looked elsewhere for contentment, missing the fact that it’s been right in front of us all along.

Home is indeed where the heart is—and where we discover, as if we didn’t know before, that it holds the gifts of our life.



Blair Knobel
Twitter / Instagram: @LBKNOBEL

Photo by Kimberli McMillin