Heading Home for the Holidays

homeforxmas

I’ll be home for Christmas … you can count on me.

Tonight, once Jon gets off work and we’ve eaten a quick supper, I’ll be heading home for Christmas. And I have to admit that it doesn’t feel quite right now that Dad won’t be there with us.

I had already purchased a gift for my dad prior to his death. I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to give it to him for his November birthday or wrap it up for Christmas. Instead, I used it in our church’s gift exchange last weekend.

Actually, I had completely forgotten about the gift, stashed away in the back of my closet, until I went in to look through my collection of already purchased presents after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t an extremely personal or sentimental sort of a gift, just an outside LED light, the kind that looks like a lantern and has a hook for hanging.  This was also came with a bug zapper (which is needed practically year-round in Louisiana). It’s the very sort of thing my dad would have loved. He was forever giving flashlights to people. In fact, my boys have already bemoaned the fact that they won’t be receiving their annual flashlight from Poppa this year for Christmas.

Yes, my father loved flashlights. The man had a vast collection of emergency lighting, everything from dollar store flashlights to kerosene lamps to expensive LED lighting. Oddly enough, most of his great stash of emergency lighting never worked.

In light of my last post (which you can read here), this dichotomy cracks me up. My little foster son and his love for lights sort of reminds me in a weird way of my dad. I think he would have gotten a lot of pleasure out of showing off his flashlight collection to Lil’ Man.  Quite often I feel sad that he never got to meet and know my two foster babies. As much as my dad loved children, he would have adored these two little ones.

home

Going home … back to the ‘Burg and the house on the hill.

This grief I’m experiencing is the strangest thing to my 42 year old mind. My dad died and I find that I just want to be with my Mama, as if I am some child who has woken in the middle of the night needing to be reassured of her presence in the dark. Some days, most days, if I could choose where to go and what to do, I would want to go home just to be there with my mother. And yet, nothing makes me sadder than going home.

Sadder because there, in the places my dad lived out his life,  I miss him more than ever. His figure seems to be waiting right around the corner of every door. His shadow sitting in every chair. His laughter echoing through the rooms. His cup of coffee just waiting to be poured.

Sadder because my mother, due in part to her own grief and perhaps also because of her reserved and introverted personality, is not truly able to be my comforter. It was not ever really her role in my life even while my dad lived, and so it cannot suddenly become that way in his death … no matter how much I might want it or wish for it.  To have other expectations is unfair to her and only serves to increase my own disappointment and grief.

Going home … will it ever feel the same again?

Deep inside my heart is a longing to go home.

I can go back to the town where I grew up, see the familiar faces and drive the roads I know like that back of my own hand. I can return to the house where my parents lived. The furniture inside is still the same. The meals my mother puts on the table are the old favorites we’ve always eaten. Technically, I am home.

Yet, its not quite right. There’s a hole, larger than I’ve ever known before, and because my dad’s not there sitting next to my mom beaming his wonderful smile it doesn’t feel exactly like the same home I’ve always known and loved.

This is the first Christmas without my dad. I’m told that future ones will be easier, that this grief will eventually begin to subside. “You’ll never stop missing your dad,” friends have said. “But the pain will not hurt quit so much.”

I’m sure they are right. One day I won’t feel the deep ache in my heart and the lump in my throat will go away. But I’m not there yet …

Yet, you know … my dad is there. He is in that perfect place of peace and rest, in the arms of the Heavenly Father. No pain. No sorrow. No fear. No worries. Just worshipping the Savior and basking in the glow of the One who is Light … a light that never runs out of batteries or needs recharging or has a burned out bulb.

not-my-home

I can’t go home  … for this world is not my home. 

My mother has said it to me many times when I would complain about my life’s circumstances:

Paige, don’t expect life to be perfect. If it was, what reason would you have to long for heaven? Remember, this world is not your home.

Her words were truer than true, almost as if the woman read her Bible on a regular basis.  (She does! She is a wise one, that mother of mine.)

In fact, she is in good company, for the writer of Hebrews (who many say was the Apostle Paul) said very nearly the same thing:

For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. ~Hebrews 13:14 ESV

And Peter wrote about it as well.  (Though I do not make The Message my main study Bible, I happen to love the wording for this verse in that translation.)

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it.  ~1 Peter 2:11 MSG

I can’t really “go home” as long as I live on this earth. But some day I will go to my eternal home. And because my dad has already gone on before, I long for it just a little more than ever before.

Yes, I’m going home for Christmas. I’ll be there with presents and hugs. I’ll join in the laughter and make memories with the ones I love most on this earth.

And though I’ll miss my dad, I’ll cherish the memories of Christmases we had together  … and look forward to the day when I get to go home and join him around the Throne of Grace.