Listening to Bing Crosby’s rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” makes me think of the many Christmas trips we made just to be able to spend the holiday with parents or grandparents. When we first married, my husband and I still lived in Connecticut, less than two hours away from our parents, and we would pack up our presents, and our two kids when they came along, and drive to our parents’ houses to spend several days with them. We ate Christmas Eve dinner with my husband’s folks and opened presents there, then headed to church to meet my parents for the candlelight Christmas Eve service. We’d sleep over at my folks’ house and open Christmas presents with them on Christmas morning.
I remember the time we loaded up the car with presents and packages, put the kids in their car seats, and headed to my parents’ house during a snowstorm. Many inches of snow had already fallen, and it was still coming down pretty steadily. It was dark out because we couldn’t leave until my husband’s shift at the police department had ended. The excitement of the Christmas holiday and getting to see our families made us anxious to get through the wintry weather as safely and quickly as possible. We had gone about a mile when our little red Datsun started coughing and sputtering. My husband kept going for another few miles, both of us hoping beyond hope that the problem would clear up, but it didn’t. Sadly, we had no choice but to return to our old farmhouse on the hill. We dreaded calling our parents to tell them we wouldn’t be making it for Christmas after all. I’m sure I cried all the way back to the house. Forlorn and heartbroken, we reached the bottom of our driveway and tried to make the steep ascent. Alas, the snow was so deep and icy, try as we might, we could not make it up the hill to our house. My husband and I looked at each other, and with grins on our faces, we said, “Guess we have no choice but to drive to Fairfield.” That less than two-hour trip took us four or five hours, but we made it. The pull of home at Christmas is so strong, we do almost anything to get there.
That routine didn’t change, even when we moved to Philadelphia and had our third child. We had farther to drive, but that didn’t deter us. It wasn’t until we moved to Texas that returning home for Christmas was impossible for us. There was no way we could afford five plane tickets. That first Christmas in Texas was going to be a lonely one for us, for sure. And then…my brother and his family drove all the way from San Diego to spend our first Texas Christmas with us. They had missed being with family so much since they moved to California, they were willing to drive three days to Texas just to spend Christmas with us. It was a wonderful Christmas indeed.
My parents began flying down from Connecticut to join us for our Christmas fiesta celebrations and eventually moved there permanently. Now my parents are both gone and the children have all moved away, but the heart tug of being home for Christmas never goes away, even though what that means has changed over the years. I hope that you get to share this wonderful time of year with those you love. God bless.