Lots is said about coming home for the holidays. Kati Ann and I were listening to the Carpenters Christmas album (we can talk about the fact that I was listening to the Carpenter’s in another post!) on the way to school last week and she heard the phrase, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” She said, “Mom, did you hear that? Home for the holidays.” The phrase ‘home for the holidays’, caught her attention. There is something warm and secure about the idea of home. Even if you don’t have a warm, safe place to come home to, you long for one. You know the possibility of a home and even ache for the day when you might have a warm, safe place to call Home.
The simple phrase ‘home for the holidays’ evokes emotions and for many paints a picture. It made me stop and think about the meaning of home for me. I have lived in North Alabama for seven years. As a born and bred Texan, I still refer to Texas as home. I caught myself telling someone the other day we were going “home” for Christmas. But is that really true? Texas, though, my birthplace, the place where our families live and where many of our memories were made, is that home? I think many of those attributes can qualify a place as home. But what about my home in Alabama? Have I made Alabama home? I have to stop. Could that really be true? Could I have come that far? In some regards, I would have to say “yes”. Yes, Alabama, is home. It is, here in Alabama, that I do life, I get mail in Alabama and earn a paycheck in Alabama. My child attends the public school in Alabama and my drivers’ license was issued by the state of Alabama.
But there is more to home than all of that, more to home than an address and a paycheck. For me, home is where, I breathe. It’s where I’m safe. Home is where I know love that is not bound by conditions as a wife, a mom, an employee, a friend. Home is where I’ve asked for forgiveness and readily received it. Home is where I’ve laughed and cried the ugly cry. Home is where I’ve swept the floors and folded the laundry. Home is where I’ve read the same book a thousand times and picked up the same pairs of shoes. Many of those things have taken place at more than my physical address.
Just this week, I experienced the graciousness of my pastor (who happens to be my boss) when I was disappointed when something I organized at church was met with some unexpected surprises. Instead of criticism, I was with an encouraging word. For me, that’s home. I have a precious friend that I call and vent my unpleasant attitudes without her thinking less of me and that’s home. I’ve sat in long conversations with my husband over an area of our marriage we are trying to improve and found acceptance even in the midst of disagreement and that’s home. I sit and listen to my first grader stumble through a Dr. Seuss book and know that I’m home. I have parents and in-laws that travel long distances to strengthen and help us when we need them, and that’s home. Home isn’t an address or a birthplace, home is people and family. And family isn’t just blood. I’ve found family in Alabama. I’ve discovered love, acceptance and support. Home isn’t always pretty. Home is messy and gritty and hard sometimes. And so, with that, I agree, there’s no place like home for the holidays.
But what about Jesus? How does He fit into this whole ‘home’ thing? Am I at home in the presence of Jesus? Can I breathe, vent and argue with Jesus? Am I met with grace and encouragement when I’m disappointed with life’s circumstances? Do I appreciate the moments He puts in front of me that are sometimes challenging and recognize them as safe? Do I sit with Jesus and feel as if I’ve found home? I haven’t always. But as I’ve walked closer with Jesus, as I’ve invited Jesus into the ugly and messy of my life, I’ve found I’m most at home when I’m with Him. When responsibilities and demands overwhelm me, I’m at home when I lean on Him.
This holiday, I’m going home for Christmas. It will be a long drive to Texas, but home will begin before that drive. Home will be found with the people I love both in Alabama and Texas. But most importantly, home will be in the presence of my God, my Abba Father. I’ll be at home in the safety and warmth of a heavenly love that delights in sitting with me and even long conversations when I’m trying to understand Him more. So, yes, I’m coming home.
Question: What about you this Christmas season, are you going home for the holidays? What does home mean to you?