“I’ll be Home for Christmas” is a song that usually reminds us of the warmth and love shared during family time spent together during the Christmas season. With our five adult children coming home for the holidays, we look forward to our quiet home being transformed to a noisy house full of laughter and activity during the next few weeks. The Christmas message of hope, peace and joy is found in the simple moments spent together honoring family traditions that tie us to our past.
This year, the phrase “Home for the Holidays” holds a deeper meaning. Since Thanksgiving, my family has suffered the loss of two uncles and we also have attended the funerals for an extended family member and a young woman who was a wife and mother of four. I know that the loss of these people will be tremendous for their families and friends. I also know that their lives were well-lived, and their impact on this world was immense! Whether they volunteered for their local food pantry, or served quietly in their churches or schools, or were role models for their family- their lives were focused on serving others and serving their Lord.
So, what do I think of now, after the loss of these special loved ones during this Christmas season when I hear the phrase “Home for the Holidays”? I think of their coming home to our Lord, Jesus Christ. The reward of a life well-lived on this earth is to live eternal life with our Lord in Heaven. We have the hope of eternal life with our Lord and knowing they are at peace with the Lord – brings us peace. There is a peace that comes from knowing that we can attain our reward in heaven by simply loving and serving others. We find the true joy of Christmas most when we serve those in need.
This year, traditions may change or look different, and that is all OK. I choose to honor those family traditions because they help us feel the connection to our cherished family members in heaven. More than ever, we appreciate the opportunity to just enjoy the simple things in life- the conversations, the dinners, or the noisiness as we tell stories, laugh, or bake cookies together.
Some will have empty seats at their family tables and for many, this holiday will be especially difficult. Family togetherness and time spent simply appreciating quality moments will help us navigate the difficult, lonely times. Prayer, celebrating together during Advent and keeping close the traditions of our faith will unite us to our families today as well as to loved ones who have passed. Coming “Home for the Holidays” and sharing our love with others brings joy in this life as we prepare for the ultimate “coming home” to eternal life.
Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan
Marketing and Communications Manager, Catholic Cemeteries Association, December 14, 2021