So there it is. “All hearts come home for Christmas.” The sign I have so loved for years. Well, most years.
Last year I almost didn’t put it up. None of our kids or grandkids were “home for Christmas.” Not in our home, that is. They were in their own homes or sharing Christmas with a spouse’s family in their home. All as it should be. A reality of this chapter of life, whether I like it or not. And so I rationalized about my sign last year: in their hearts, I know they come home for Christmas. More importantly, they know where their True Home is.
Funny, isn’t it, how Christmas always bring thoughts of home? For some, it’s a flood of warm memories of childhood Christmases: the music, the warmth, the food . . . maybe even the magic. For others, maybe not such warm thoughts of Christmases past. There’s pain and darkness in the memories. Or maybe there’s just not much there at all.Christmas thoughts conjure up more of what wasn’t rather than what was.
Or Christmas past elicits aching loss.The missing of people once around our tables who aren’t there now.I have on my heart this year many friends whose loss is not a long-ago aching but the searing knife-edge of raw, recent pain. Sons who died tragically and way too young. Beloved spouses who slipped away sooner than anyone expected.In the past few weeks alone, several friends of mine have lost their mothers. A different kind of Christmas. Very different.
Which leads me to memories I have of Christmas 2007, which was a very different Christmas for our family. As my mom struggled valiantly with metastatic breast cancer, we arranged for all our kids and grandkids to gather that year in condos near where Mom was in hospice. We would have Christmas in Florida so she could be with all her family.
But God had different plans.On December 19, just six days before Christmas, she slipped away from us. She went Home.In her own way she had prepared us. When we first moved her into her hospice room, she looked around and commented, “This is a very nice B&B, isn’t it? I could go right to Heaven from here.” And she did.
I remembered C. S. Lewis: “God refreshes us along the way with some very pleasant inns. But He does not encourage us to think of them as home.”
So this Christmas all the kids—and all ten (!) grandkids—are coming home to our home at Christmas time. I’m ecstatic. Joy comes easily. But the deeper joy, the kind that lights not only every Christmas but every day of our lives, comes from knowing where True Home is.
Another sign in our house: “Life brings you to unexpected places.Love brings us back home.” That’s it: His love brings us home. His leaving His home to come to ours, nasty and dark and dirty as it can be. His dying on a cruel cross and then rising from that cold tomb to provide the way to our True Home.
That’s a lot to celebrate, whoever—and whatever—is home this Christmas. Dorothy Sayers famously observed that “Christians can laugh better because they know the end of the story. “Surely we have more reason than ever to celebrate Christmas. Home is always waiting.