Buffalo was not my hometown. I was not born and raised here. When I was very young and living in Long Island, my mother used to sing "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" to my sister and me. All I knew of this faraway city that was to become my future home was that it was cold and snowy, and at that young age I thought it was like Alaska.
It is now several decades later and I have lived in Buffalo for 26 years. My husband is a teacher here and we raised our son and daughter in this wonderful, diverse city. Though I had never imagined that Western New York would ever truly feel like home, I just have to look at my life and my family's life to see how amazing this place has been to us.
The first thing that struck me was how much Buffalonians love the outdoors. As soon as the last snows have melted, people are filling parks, shooting hoops, pushing strollers, playing tennis and cleaning up their yards. People of all ages enjoy the many festivals and outdoor concerts. There are so many affordable choices for entertainment in Western New York that it is impossible to say "yes" to even a fraction of them. We can be as busy as we want eating ethnic foods at heritage festivals and going on walking tours of magnificent gardens or enjoying Broadway plays (and regional ones as well).
However, some of my family's favorite times have been relaxing on beautiful Lake Erie. We bought a boat when our children were young, and they also have had great times with their friends tubing down the West River or skiing in Chippewa Creek, Ohio.
There was not this immediate accessibility to a large body of water where I grew up. Nor were there numerous parks where I could take my children or meet my friends. We didn't have festivals galore, or really any entertainment that was free. Shakespeare in Delaware Park? How cool is that?!
So, when my family members who now live in northern New Jersey come up to visit us, of course we take them to see the impressive Niagara Falls and the charming village of Niagara-on-the-Lake just over the border. But I am sorry that they are not here to join our family tradition of seeing "A Christmas Carol" at the Alleyway Theatre, or experience Tuesdays at Artpark or the beautiful ski slopes of Ellicottville, or family picnics at Beaver Island Park or enjoy the awesome talent of the Buffalo Philharmonic.
What has made living here even better than all of this combined is the down-to-earth goodness of the people who make up this area. We are a friendly, helpful group that has a carpe diem attitude. I say "we" because with much gratitude I consider myself an adopted Buffalonian. I love this city that I call home.