A few years ago I accidentally ruined one of my favorite Christmas songs. So, spoiler alert, this post might actually do the same for you. You have been warned. This is also another one of those downer posts. Therefore, I am also issuing a tissue alert. You have been double warned.
I love Christmas music! I am one of those people who will turn it on in October and keep it going through January. I am also a sucker for the classics from decades long gone. Give me Peggy Lee singing “Jingle Bell Rock,” Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and Dean or Frank or Bing singing just about anything. I have always been an old soul who dreams of living in the past.
“I’ll be Home for Christmas” was always one of those classic tunes that could quickly put me in the Christmas spirit. Until one year I actually listened to the lyrics and really took them to heart.
“I’ll be home for Christmas. If only in my dreams.”
An idea popped into my head and my interpretation of those lyrics changed forever. Sometimes you can only go home in your dreams. For some that is because they are too far away from home so going there is too expensive or physically impossible at the moment. But what if you can’t go home because your concept of home doesn’t exist anymore? What if when you think of going home for Christmas you can only picture a time in the past that will never happen again?
When I hear this song now, my mind wanders back to the Christmases of my childhood. Going home for Christmas means crowding into my Grandparents’ houses with all my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and more. Home is spending the day sneaking Christmas candy the adults thought they hid in the garage. Home is my Dad only putting the video camera down long enough to take some photos. Home is my Grandma wrapping me up in a big hug just because she loves being a Grandma so much. Home is a handmade doll crib crafted with so much love from my Grandpa. Home is a place I can’t go back to no matter how much I want to. Home is lost in the fading memories of those who are no longer with us.
My mom has a VHS tape from Christmas 1992, I think, that just has random scenes from a typical Christmas at my Grandparents’ house. There is absolutely nothing special about it but it’s a treasure to me. Sometimes I love watching it to remember all the good times. Sometimes, though, it hurts. Sometimes I wish there was a way to go back in time and tell my 4 year old self to take it all in and not take anything for granted. Relish in the hugs and kisses. Be grateful for the thoughtful gifts. Enjoy the carelessness that comes with feeling completely safe surrounded by those you love.
When I hear this song now, I miss my Dad. I miss my grandparents and all the other relatives who are no longer around. Then, that darn busted mustard seed starts to creep back in. (See Busted Mustard Seed) Who can I blame for the sadness that comes from missing those loved ones? Who’s fault is it that I can’t go “home” for Christmas? It always puts one more issue between me and God. It throws just a little more kindling on the fire of anger that has been brewing for years.
I wish I could say that in writing this post God and I have totally worked all this out together but we haven’t. I know that I shouldn’t be angry with Him simply because I can’t have what I want. But my head and my heart aren’t always on the same page.
I also realize that the reason I can’t go “home” is because He has called those people Home. They are in a place they don’t dream of ever leaving. They are having the best Christmases with the one it’s all about. How selfish is it of me to wish they were still here? Especially, when I know how much suffering each of them went through toward the end.
I think it’s time for me to find a new meaning of the word home. Home can’t be in the past. Home, also, doesn’t have to be a place. Home is where you feel comfortable, safe, and loved. Home is knowing that no matter what everything will turn out alright. Home is where your heart should lay. Home is God. At least it should be. This year I have slowly started moving from my past “home” into my new “home” in Him. The trouble is nothing ever feels like home until you accept it. Sometimes you just have to live there for a while until you slowly start to settle in and unpack some boxes. I’m terrible at unpacking and decorating new places. So this is going to be an awfully slow process.
Here is to hoping that this year we can let go and make Him our home for Christmas.