Long Story Short: Homecoming vs. Coming Home

Fifth grade is a time of wonder.

Middle school opens all sorts of doors. Of course, choosing which ones to open is the secret to life, but that initial realization of glory – the good stuff – that is there for the taking of youth has the potential to be beautiful thing.

I saw that glimmer in my daughter’s eyes this week.

“Tuesday is Crazy Socks Day,” she said. “It’s Homecoming week.”

Call me whatever, but I had never thought about Homecoming for a middle school. The town where I grew up had one middle school and one high school. Everything was all about the high school. On rare occasions, we middle school minions were invited to join the fun.

As I watched my daughter demolish any semblance of organization in her sock drawer, I remembered all those years ago when we too celebrated the esteemed tradition of Crazy Sock Day.

“Today was Crazy Hat Day,” she said as she tossed socks right and left. “But I forgot all about it.”
Ah, Crazy Hat Day. I remembered that too.

And Western Day.

Those Days haven’t changed as much as one would expect.

I realized those Days still had some inexplicable power. What some administrator probably considered as silliness did the job that it was suppose to do. Somehow, those Days ignited the flame of school spirit – which, in my little town and my family’s little home, was right up there close to the Holy Spirit.
This far down the road, I had almost forgotten about living in and with school spirit. Granted, maybe that’s because I’m not an LSU Tiger or a UL Ragin Cajun fan. (Before you hit the send button on the hate mail, know that I have nothing against either school. Go Tigers. Go Cajuns. However, the reality is, they’re not my schools. I come in peace.) At any rate, however hokey loving a school may seem to the uber cool, there is an impossible-to-deny appeal in that devotion.

As my daughter’s search for Crazy Socks continued, I realized that from her distant fifth-grade post, she was trying her school spirit on for size.

And she chatted on. She told me about the football game scheduled for Thursday night – L.J. Alleman against Paul Breaux. She told me about the decorative ribbons the cheerleaders were selling and how much she wanted one.

“At first, I couldn’t figure it out,” she said. “It looked like the ribbons said ‘Terrifying Tigers,’ and we’re the Trojans. That didn’t make any sense. Finally, I figured it out. What it said was, ‘Terrify the Tigers.’ Paul Breaux, Mom, they’re the Tigers.”

I nodded my head and remembered the forgotten joy of convincing my parents to let me have .25 to buy one of the ribbons the cheerleaders were selling – and my subsequent pride in the wearing.
Watching my not-so-little girl settle on one blue froggy sock and one pink monkey sock, I was jolted into the realization of something I’ve known for decades but never put into words before: Homecoming is not about coming home.

Homecoming is for the students. It’s is about building relationships to the people who will have known you when you were young. It’s about building a connection to a place that you will remember as an anchor of your youth.

All that talk about alumni coming home.

Not so much.

Homecoming is about students making the memories that will (hopefully) make them smile when they’re 44-years-old and watching their fifth-grade daughters search for Crazy Socks.

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