Tag Archives: Christmas songs

A Place Called Home

Kevin proposed to me on Christmas Eve, so that’s been on my mind a lot lately, as Christmas dances ever nearer. Beary is delighted, beside herself with visions of sugarplums, and I’m just trying to hold on through the whirl. Trying to keep Christmas in my heart, but the heart-pieces left are shattered and not big enough to hold all the joy that the season should bring.

I’m managing by keeping our big traditions, but letting others slide. For this year, at least. For my Bear, I have to keep some Christmas, so we decorated our tree and staked down our inflatable yard decorations. We made some candy and hung our stockings. And I sorted through the Christmas movies, trying to decide which ones I could handle this year. So many we enjoyed as a family; so many we wanted to share with our Bear as she got older.

I realized she’d never seen “A Christmas Carol” and it was one Kevin loved; he collected several versions to enjoy. He so much wanted to share it with her, but the timing was never right and now it’s just the two of us to carry on for him. I decided to do it, to watch it with her, and I approached it methodically, thinking that was my best bet for getting through Kevin’s tradition. We planned for it as a lesson, our reading unit for December. We read the book, read a Magic Tree House adventure about Charles Dickens, studied Victorian England, and culminated with the Kelsey Grammer version of the movie, eating popcorn and cuddling in Daddy’s chair.

I was ready for the story to unfold, for the memories of Christmas past and Christmas present and Christmas future — on the screen and in my mind. I steeled myself, determined to keep emotion in check, to see the magic unfold through her eyes.

I forgot about the music. The beautiful songs.

There’s a place called home
I can almost see
With a red front door
And a roaring fire
And a Christmas tree
Yes, a place called home
Full of love and family
And I’m there at the door
Watching you come home to me

Through the years
I’ll recall this day
In your arms
When I finally found my way
To a place called home
And to life with you
You’ll have everything
You could ever want
All I want is you
And a place called home
You and I will always be
In the dark of the night
Let your heart come home to me

Through the years
I’ve recalled this day
In your arms
When I finally found my way
To a place called home
And to life with you
Where the days are long
And the love is strong
And the dreams are true

Just a place called home
You and I will always be
In the dark of the night
Let your heart come home
To me
To the place in my heart
Where you’re always home
With me

I forgot.

Then I remembered.

Because with Kevin, I felt like I’d finally found home. My home, our home, where anything was possible. We searched for each other for so long. And when you find the one who finally fits, well, that’s home and you never want to lose it. We’d finally found our way there. Together. To a place called home.

It’s hard right now, to be in our home but to feel like my real home, my heart, is gone. Not completely, I know, because he left behind a beautiful little girl, the image of him, and she fills this home we created with laughter and joy and energy. I love her so much and I thank God for her every day. She explodes with merriment. Her antics and escapades and imagination fill up the air and swell to the heavens and I know Kevin watches with wonder and delight, chuckling over his Little Bear.

But there is still emptiness in my home, an emptiness in my heart. Everything is different now. And where before I heard the song and sang its lyrics at Christmas because it was our story, our journey to a place called home filled with love and family, now it’s all so different.

Now I hear it and my heart splinters as Old Ebenezer Scrooge’s voice breaks with the realization of all he’s lost.

Now memories of Kevin’s smile and his eyes and his arms rush to fill the hole he left behind, and I whisper through my heartache and tears, “…there’s a place in my heart where you’re always home with me…”

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The Song

About a month after Kevin and I started dating, he and his family took a vacation, a cruise to the Caribbean. I can’t say either of us was overjoyed at the thought of more than a week apart, but we emailed daily. Even though we had worked together for almost two years, and had cubicles less than six feet apart, there were still things we didn’t know about each other and this was a great chance to kind of catch up and fill in the blanks.

With Christmas coming, one of the questions I emailed him was this: “What’s your favorite Christmas song?” I laughed when I got his answer back, because, as I’d come to expect (and love), there was a Godfather connection. There’s a scene where Michael and Kay are shopping and Bing Crosby croons “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” in the background. So, obviously, that became Kev’s favorite holiday song.

We started a tradition that year, our first Christmas together, buying a new Christmas CD. As a joke, I got him The Chipmunks Christmas album and, wouldn’t you know…his favorite song was on it. We added to our collection each year and, more often than not, that song showed up on the track list.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight

It’s funny how many Christmases we sang along to those lyrics, even in the middle of difficult circumstances. Right after we married, Kevin’s job was eliminated, so that Christmas was kind of hard. By the next year, he was working again, but infertility hounded us when we so desperately wanted to start a family. When our little Bear finally arrived, our hearts were light and we were thrilled and sure that everything was turning around. And it was good for a couple of years, until Kev was diagnosed with colon cancer.

We sang the song with special fervor that year, praying with every sweet note that the lyrics would come true:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away.

Chemotherapy kept the troubles at bay, sometimes, but we could never get out from under cancer’s shadow. Some years, he had chemo during Christmas; others, we were fortunate to have a break. Either way, we squeezed every bit of joy from the season of miracles, watching our Bear marvel at the tree and the lights and the nativity and Santa, watching her sparkle every bit as brightly as the decorations. And sometimes, just for a bit, it did seem like our troubles were miles away.

Right after Halloween this year, she asked if we could play her Dora Christmas CD in the truck. I agreed, so we started rockin’ around the Christmas tree pretty early this year, but we needed it and it was good. As November wore on, I added more holiday music to the playlist. And that’s when it happened.

The song.

I heard the opening notes and I froze, hands on the steering wheel, driving down the street, drowning in grief as the music flowed over me. My lips moved, silently singing the words, and tears tracked down my face.

“What’s wrong, Mama?” Her concerned voice floated from the back seat. But I couldn’t answer because my mind was pulling out so many memories, all jumbled together, overwhelming me. So many Christmases, so many years singing this song. So many versions, but all of them beautiful and haunting, lovely to listen to as we drove the dark snowy streets searching for holiday lights.

Here we are, as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

And now. Now he’s gone, but the song’s still here and the lyrics, always so melancholy, are too much this year. I want so badly for all our troubles to be miles away, to be gone – for Kevin to be back with us, gathered near to me, healthy and smiling, secretly loving that The Godfather got all entwined in our holiday.

And I can’t explain to Bear how I’m sad and happy at the same time. That grief doesn’t come and go, but it mixes itself up with the happy and the joy and the hope, and there’s no separating them, and that it’s impossibly possible to be crying and smiling and heartbroken and heart-filled at the same time. That the song will probably make me cry every single time this year, and that I can’t get away from it because it’s included on nearly every Christmas album we own, but that’s okay. I need to hear it, to sobbingly stumble through singing it, because it’s Daddy, little Bear, it’s your Daddy in those words and when I hear it, when I sing it, he’s here with me. It’s every beautiful, magical Christmas moment we shared and I need to feel the pain to feel the joy.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.