Truly interesting and inspiring contribution from a reader...
Tatiana, these are your words:
First of all, I need to say that I'm French and when I was learning English at school, they didn't really give us a translation for that word. I clearly remember tests where we had to choose between home and house, when to use one or the other. And, at the time, I didn't know the real definition of those words and their translation. I had a technique though, house was "the building" and home was more like "the family."
It did help a lot for the tests. Now, I know that there is sort of an equivalence in French, it's the word 'foyer'. In English, they translate it by 'focus', but in French it has a larger meaning. It means fireplace and family too, two words I think are important to associate with home.
I think everyone has their own definition of home, but for me, family and fireplace can define it pretty well. Family, in the large meaning of the word. Family as in the people who are important to you, not necessarily related. And fireplace because, well it's a centre. It's a source of warmth, of comfort. And being at home is that too, it's feeling good. It's feeling safe.
That "great house" was where grandparents, parents, children etc... lived most of the time. They sometimes left for work (or to create a new family) but they had this place that they all owned. It was somewhere to come back.
It was an attraction point. And maybe it's because of that that they never bought a house, they needn't attaches somewhere else. They had their family.
I realize that here I'm talking of a time that has now ended and of a very specific situation, but I think it can sum up what home can mean. It's a place you can come back, a place where you'll never be alone. A home is somehow reassuring. It's a circle you are a part of, it's a protection in a way. It's being part of something.
And I come back to say the same, it's feeling safe.
I particularly love this idea of a "Great House" a "point of attraction". As someone who clings deeply to homes and families whilst also desperately seeking adventure and exploration, it is a challenging concept to find balance in the two. For every person I welcome into my world, I risk that heartache of having to some day say goodbye. I like the idea that there is a place where no matter how far you travel, you can return to the gathering place, to the love that formed you. And perhaps this creates the safety that we speak of... the knowledge that there is always a place waiting for your return when you need it most.
You can travel far and freely when you know you have somewhere or someone that would welcome your return.