Dec 23, 2016
During Christmas 2015, I posted a picture on Facebook of a little girl wearing a coat and sitting on a suitcase along a rural road.
It wasn’t just any picture, it was my humble attempt to express the emotion of being “homeless.” I did not mean “homeless” in the traditional sense of the word, but “homeless” in that I can no longer go back to the home where my parents lived.
We think our parents will be around forever — not so; my mother died on March 1, 2014; my Daddy, 90 years old, has experienced health issues this year and had to leave his home for other accommodations.
As a rule, when someone asks, “Are you going home for Christmas?” they are asking if we are going back to visit our mother and father. Though we no longer live there literally, and we have our own home, we still call it home.
Home is where the heart is.
When your parents are gone, suddenly that place to which you always knew you could retreat, no matter what; that place where the warmth of memories past lay deep in the recesses of your memory; where arms are open wide to receive you no matter what condition you find yourself in; where the smells and the familiar things you grew up with; where your favorite foods were served; where the rooms, especially at holiday time, are filled with love that permeates the air and your total being — that place where family once resided is no longer available to you. Now that place you always called home can only be visited in the memory of the mind.
Oh, how you long for your Dear Mother and Daddy when they are no longer humanly or mentally present.
I think of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” where Emily said, “Goodbye world. Goodbye, Grover’s Corners … Mama and Papa. Goodbye to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”
Today, so close to Christmas … to going “home” where my parents were well and in their home, and my brother and sisters and their spouses and other family members and friends gathered to celebrate Christmas with all our traditions, I both mourn and I celebrate — mourn that those times are gone, but celebrate that I am able to have them.
I am humbly grateful I had a mother and father and memories to treasure. Time and people we love are so precious.
As the New Year approaches — and I journal thoughts and list valuable pearls of wisdom I have gleaned over the last year, and even my lifetime, recognizing what is most important and close to my heart — I vow to waste not another minute of life. It does go by so fast, and one day you wake up and realize that age has played its trick on you — and you, according to statisticians, have only so many breaths or heartbeats attributed to you, each so precious.
This Christmas, not able to go to that place called “home,” I open that gift of memory that I will feast on — one not wrapped in a bow, but wrapped nonetheless in pretty paper in the memory of my mind.
Today, as I contemplate the true meaning of Christmas, and the birth of the Christ child, I believe that family and going home actually has a deeper meaning. It is a representation of us leaving our earthy existence — or home — and one day going to our real home where we will be reunited with our loved ones.
Either way, it’s all about love, and as the song says, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”