Until I was in 7th grade, we went to visit our grandparents every year at Christmastime. They lived in Pittsburgh, a few small hills up from the Allegheny River in a large Victorian house on Home Avenue. That really was the name of their street, so it was natural for my brother and me to link the idea of Christmas with home. Depending on where we lived at the time, my parents had to drive up to nine or ten hours to get us to Home Avenue, but it was worth it.
Grandpa in particular made us feel special. He called me "Toots" and helped my brother make stilts for us and took me into the kitchen to oversee the apple pies. He also was the best storyteller and best listener to our stories. We took turns telling and reading, and every year Grandpa had to describe the 4th-grade Christmas play that our mother had been in long ago.
That gave Grandma her cue for reading from the Bible and explaining the Christmas story. How we loved sharing these stories, and the laughter and love.
The years went by until there was no longer a large family gathering or any big old house to go to. But in our thoughts, home and Christmas remained synonymous, so whomever we were with, we felt joy and comfort.
After I married, my husband and I spent several years in the Far East, and after that we went to live in England with our children. Always that coincidence of the love which was both Christmas and home went with us.
I still remember when we were living in a non-Christian country, finding these words of Mary Baker Eddy: "The basis of Christmas is the rock, Christ Jesus; its fruits are inspiration and spiritual understanding of joy and rejoicing, - not because of tradition, usage, or corporeal pleasures, but because of fundamental and demonstrable truth, because of the heaven within us. The basis of Christmas is love loving its enemies, returning good for evil, love that 'suffereth long, and is kind' " ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 260). Instead of feeling isolated, I began to feel what a privilege it was to be a Christian.
Sometimes circumstances keep people away from their family setting at Christmastime when they most long for it. Demands of work, finances, military service, or personal difficulties may make travel impossible. If we have been separated from someone we were very close to, it can seem impossible not to feel sad. But then more than ever we need and can depend on that deepest sense of what home really is - evidence of God's unconditional love for all His children.
The exact place we may be on any calendar day is not all that important - April 6, or September 12, or December 25. But the real locator is a given: that blessing and joy exist wherever we are because that is where our Father-Mother is.
One dictionary defines home as "vital core, cheerful, simple wholeness. Place of origin." This implies that the idea of home is far more reliable and resourceful than a mere structure. We can cherish it whether it looks like a trailer or a tent, an old Victorian house or a stable with a manger. We can honor the healing Christ anywhere. Mrs. Eddy wrote of "the home of my heart" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 197).
We actually live in our consciousness of home, in the love of God, coinciding with Christ. So we can celebrate true Christmas every day and be happy and at peace.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in
the house of the Lord for ever.