Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home, especially for the Holidays.
A friend in Australia posted this picture on Facebook recently. For some odd reason it reminded me of Christmases long ago. My grandfather wore long johns similar to this year around. They didn’t own an electronic clothes dryer, so all garments even the unmentionable type were hung out for all who looked to see.
This picture takes me back to a more simple time, whether it was a holiday or not. Pulling up to a house not too dissimilar to the one pictured meant the happy bark and tail wag of a dog waiting to be played with, a grandmother waiting to give a big hug and kiss and cousins eager to play and talk about our very different lives just a few hundred miles apart.
To me Christmas is about homecomings. If you’ve read most of my ramblings you know that I consider myself an adopted son of Wisconsin. This state with its beautiful geography and wonderful people made the transition easy. The only exception? The holidays from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. I long for the familiarity of my childhood home and the people I grew up with as Christmas approaches.
No, I’ve not lost sight of the reason for the season. The vast majority of us are celebrating the birth of Christ, me included. Christmas Eve at 8:00 pm I have the honor of participating in Lessons and Carols at Grace Presbyterian Church in Beaver Dam. I will be sharing Luke2:15-20 between the carols “Hark The Harold Angels Sing” and “ “Once In Royal David’s City.” I can’t help it, for some the materialistic exchange of gifts is the draw of the season, for me it is the activities and the music and most importantly the people that I see only this time of year.
Due to work demands, unfortunately I will not go home for Christmas. Fortunately, there will be a small gathering of immediate family here in Beaver Dam and like Thanksgiving there will be phone calls and electronic correspondence in the form on Instant Messages or Texts or Instagram’s or you name it to those gathering where I grew up. The family will connect in modern ways, but it just is not the same as being there.
While the rest of my family met this week for a reunion, I worked. Between working and sleeping was the company of my pets and my PC. On a bulletin board in my office is a saved project from my youngest that she completed at least 6 years ago entitled; “What Home Means To Me.”
You will be spared a verbatim account of the work, but what she wrote in Middle School still rings true today and rings loud for me at Christmas. The work starts with a cliché; “Home is where the heart is.” There are pictures to illustrate her writings. A photo of our Pug, to demonstrate that our family requires obedience and discipline or we would become dysfunctional. Also like the puppy, we make mistakes. Without mistakes, we can never learn or improve. There is a ball of yarn to symbolize the tightness of the family unit. There are peas in a pod to symbolize the closeness of the family bond. Finally a caterpillar to symbolize change, growth and the chrysalis. We may not feel comfortable leaving the chrysalis or home, but in order to grow you must leave the fold.
It is in the leaving that we recognize what is missed when we return. Christ is the reason for many of us, but for me it is also a wonderful excuse for a homecoming. Regardless of your faith, if you are fortunate, congregating with those you love is a great benefit that Holidays such as these afford us.
Celebrate my friends, life is too short not too.