Bing Crosby crooned so many years ago that he would be home for Christmas whether in his dreams or not. The sentiment in that song suggested yearning and hope and the cherished arms of family surrounding the person who had been away from loved ones for some time. It was a prayer and a lament for one who was far from home and longed to be sitting at that familiar and safe hearth. I know that longing very well. I left my home to follow my dreams, going on 40 years now. My pining for home during the holidays was deep and strong but after some time I slowly settled where I was. And if truth be told in all of those years I have only been home for a handful of Christmases.
Looking back, it was not for lack of wanting or trying. Some years I just did not have the money to go home. I suppose I could have asked for it but that was something I was never comfortable with. I felt that I had made this choice to go and I had to live by it. During the passing of years, however, life kind of starting folding in on itself. I have always loved the holidays so I began creating my own Christmas traditions with the loved ones I was with and in the place I was already. I have been fortunate to have had friends to celebrate with. I had a boyfriend, then I had a husband. Then we had a child and then we had another.
We started our own family traditions around our own hearth. The times I went back to my family home, I was in those wonderful celebrations but I was no longer of them. Their Christmas traditions folded in on themselves to adjust to my absence. I have held some of those traditions for my own little family. Certain foods on Christmas day. A festive tree and twinkling lights. But we have created many new traditions for ourselves. I am grateful that my children have memories that have kept their own home alive for them.
The beauty of not being home for Christmas is that you are open to the myriad of ways people celebrate. It could be Christmas but it could just as well be Hanukkah. It could also be Ramadan or Kwanzaa. It could be the Winter Solstice. Wonderful traditions, ceremonies, foods to celebrate the end of a year and the promise of the new one. December is everyone’s month and it is no one’s. Who could possibly claim it for themselves alone? The lights of the stars shine on everyone and I have yet to meet someone from any background who does not wish upon them. It’s a joy to learn other ways to celebrate. Those magical and joyous days are filled with such beauty.
Now my own children are adults. Now they are moving away and creating their own traditions. I find that hard. I find that karma has caught up with me in many ways although I am not really certain that’s how it works. It just feels that way. I want everything to stay the same and it doesn’t. It can’t. That is not the nature of time nor of life. If I have learned anything it has to be this. Some days I can find the traditions that make me long for those more innocent days when I was a child myself. But more often I celebrate the myriad of beautiful traditions that come to me from many sources. Life is a prism. It is a collage. It is the melting pot we are blessed with. What could be more magical then that?
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Eid Mubarak. Blessed Be. May you be home wherever you are.