|The Home of My Youth|
Ever since I left my parents’ house back a million years ago, the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” has become a conflictive tune that stirs up too many undecipherable emotions. The song is the anthem of the displaced. I know I am not alone. The melancholic circle of those who don’t even know where “home” is anymore is heavily populated.
I read a post today that touched on that. My Facebook friend mentioned how “home for Christmas” means being with her Mom. Home is, therefore, not a tangible place. At least, it’s not tangible in the physical sense. The concept lives in the abstract world of our soul. We touch it and sense it with our heart.
Growing up in Panama, Christmas was the most anticipated of holidays. I am the youngest of three (and by a lot!). I was still a teen at home with my parents while my brother and sister where already grownups, living in the big city four hours away from our hometown. Christmas was, therefore, that special time of the year when the whole family would get together.
I remember my parents’ exhilaration in expectation of the gathering. My brother already had two children, so the burning desire to see my niece and nephew made our hearts burst with pure joy! My Mom would start planning the details for weeks ahead. Rosa would get busy cleaning rooms and making sure everyone had what they needed. My Dad would pull down boxes of Christmas decorations down from the highest storage places in our closets. I would spend hours setting the Nativity and figuring out ingenious ways to make an ages-old silver Christmas tree spark like new. Those memories are truly precious…that really felt like home.
Today, however, it is all gone. My parents are not around anymore. The house that always felt like it would be ours forever is out of our reach. Even the relationships with those we love are stray making a reunion something that belongs to the land of distant dreams.
Does that mean that “home” is no more?
Well, in many ways…yes…
The truth is that the Baby we celebrate at Christmas reminds us that we will never find our true home in this world. I may have a family of my own now. I may have a beautiful house filled with Christmas cheer. But none of it is really “home.”
The same way Christ came to bring us salvation and left us the Holy Spirit as a sign of His eternal love; home is found in that Love. Home is in the Love who was born in a manger over two thousand years ago. Home is the Love who died for us. Home is the Love who calls us. Home is the Love who leads us to believe. Home is the Love who tells us that in Him we could have eternal life and dwell in one of the mansions that He is preparing for us.
I guess the dream is that none of us will really be home for Christmas while still on this side of Heaven. And, believe it or not, there is deep joy in that realization. The joy is in the fact that, whether confused about where home is or whether surrounded by all the warmth and joy the season could bring, it is all but a pale comparison of what it is to come when we are truly home.