The classic Perry Como song, Home for the Holidays, has a very straightforward premise: “there’s no place like home for the holidays.” Why then does the rest of the song speak to the travelling adventures of people leaving home?
Consider this line from the first verse: I met a man who lives in Tennessee, and he was headin’ for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie. The very next line of the song states: from Pennsylvania folks are travellin’ down to Dixie’s sunny shore. Does no one in this song stay at home? Why is the song even titled as it is? Totally fake news!
As terrific as the traffic from the Atlantic to the Pacific may be, Como’s 1959 holiday favourite really speaks to the nostalgia of travelling to one’s childhood home or that special place where family and friends will be gathering. The song, in its whimsical way, wends us along winter roadways and takes us back to what might be deemed simpler or more wholesome times, when we waited for a very real and far less commercialized Santa; when it was better to give than to receive.
Home for the holidays has a variance of meaning. For me, it draws forth a sense of thanksgiving: an appreciation for the many gifts and blessings in my life. Home can be a humbling experience.
Then there are the homeless. Who sings their holiday song? Consider also that for many displaced people, especially refugees, Canada has become their new home. They are not able to celebrate their faith traditions in their customary home, but perhaps they can now honour and celebrate their traditions without fear of reprisal or persecution. This is what Canada is known for after all. Tolerance is one of our greatest gifts.
Then again, there are those who emulate the sentiment of Ebenezer Scrooge who said: “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” Not a very homey thing to say. Yet, the erosive and divisive voices of secularism grow louder.
I have friends and colleagues of various faith backgrounds as well as some without. I wish them well on their special days accordingly. As a Christian, part of being at home ‘with and in’ the season of Christmas, is keeping Christ in Christmas and not conforming to the neutrality of Kramer’s festivus, happy holidays, or season’s greetings. Perhaps three ghosts will visit the hearts of those in our midst who would rather persecute out of their ignorance than seek to understand and embrace the ways of others through open-mindedness and goodwill.
“There’s no place like home.” We heard this too from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She wanted to get home like so many of us do. Reality is, we can’t always be home for the holidays; especially those serving in our military on foreign operations. So, if Santa brings you some new red shoes, just click your heels together three times and think to yourself: there’s no place like home! You’ll be home for Christmas – if only in your dreams!
Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018!
Tim Cusack is an educator, writer, and member of the naval reserve.