Being home for Christmas is something which, it seems, everybody dreams of achieving. Wherever we look and listen we hear and see the tales of people who are trying to make it home for Christmas. We see flights booked up and full, people who have been let down by the train system desperately taking buses or hiring taxis just to make it back for Christmas. I sat back a little and wondered why?? Why is it so important for millions, in fact billions of people to make it back to their home for that particular day.
Now apart from the fact that everyone (well almost everyone) has a holiday and you are likely to be able to meet up with a lot of family at the same time I cannot see a rational explanation why so many try to make this pilgrimage under immensely trying conditions for no apparent reason other than it is Christmas Day!!
Why do I find this irrational you ask – it is Christmas so of course people will want to be together. Well on one level I am sure you are perfectly correct. However unless Christmas Day holds some kind of significance for you personally why on earth would you put yourself through all the trauma of making a long pilgrimage home just for that day. Why would you suffer the delays and long bus journeys through terrible weather conditions. So many who make this journey ( sometimes across the globe!) have no particular reason for it being that special day. In fact many have no connection at all with the reason for the celebration – maybe even have an opposite point of view for the reason for Christmas.
Now I realise that Jesus Christ was not ACTUALLY born on this day in time but probably sometime in October (so many say), however this is the day which has been designated through the centuries to celebrate the birth of the one whom Christians regard as the Son of God who came to earth as a baby and died as a man who is the Saviour of the human race.
Unless this is your belief I cannot for the world understand why anyone would endure the journeys and trauma of what has become Christmas tradition and festivities. It makes no sense to do this if you have no connection with the true meaning of Christmas. It is akin to me (being a Christ believer) travelling home to be with my family and friends for Jewish Passover or Muslim Ramadan! It just makes no sense whatsoever.
So as I have reflected on being home in Scotland for Christmas (although our homecoming was propelled by medical reasons) I reflect that we travel ‘home’ because perhaps we are emulating the journey which Joseph and Mary took to return to Joseph’s ‘home’ town of Bethlehem and maybe the tradition of being at home comes from this original homecoming which ironically enough was enforced homecoming in that it was by decree of a Roman governor that Joseph returned home by route of an arduous journey.
If all those who do not belive in the one in whom Christmas is named for did not travel it would make it so much easier for those of us who do to travel. The shops and transport would be much easier to use and the stress levels of many would be so much lower. Of course if those who do not hold to this belief were to engage with the one who the season is named for then perhaps they would find it a lot less stressful and the joy of Christmas would be deeper and more meaningful.