My dad pulled into the driveway of my favorite place in the world: my little green house with a squeaky swing set and spacious backyard. I immediately started sobbing. This was not our house anymore. He quickly realized his mistake, backed out, and drove down the road to our new house a few miles away.

The previous week I had said goodbye to the walls where I had secretly scribbled my name; the carpet where I had danced, laughed, and cried; the kitchen where so many meals were cooked; and the table where so many birthdays were celebrated. When we packed up our belongings and left my little green house, I thought I would never recover.

I left behind my purple room, the living room where the Christmas tree stood every holiday season, and the hill in the front yard that was made for rolling down. I left behind the sink where I gave my dog her first bath, the kitchen counter where I learned how to write the ABC’s, and the bathroom where I pulled out my first tooth.

Our new house was big and empty. It did not smell the same. It did not feel cozy. My room was not the same shade of purple, there was no hill in the front yard, and the backyard was not big enough for a swing set. After we unpacked our boxes, the house was not empty anymore, but no matter how many of our belongings were there, it did not feel like home.

I had concluded that my family’s new house was never going to be my home. But when I woke up on Christmas morning to the familiar smell of home-baked cinnamon rolls, I began to feel different. I walked down the stairs and saw the Christmas tree. It was in a different place, but stood tall and was shining brighter than ever. I heard the voice of Bing Crosby singing holiday melodies through the living room speakers while my mom hummed along. My dog greeted me with a wagging tail while my dad and sister set the table with our traditional Christmas plates.

Although we had left our little green house, my family was the same and our traditions would stay alive no matter the location. That morning, I realized that my family did not leave home behind, we brought home with us.

This new home was where many more secret stains and marks would be made, many more meals would be shared, and many more birthdays would be celebrated. This new home was still where I would be able to lay down on the couch to unwind after a long day of school. And, this new home was still where my sister and I could scream the lyrics to our favorite songs while jumping on our beds.

The day I learned that you can never leave behind a home as long as the people you love are with you, I never missed my little green house again.