No home for Christmas

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    ONE CAROL that makes me cry is I’ll be home for Christmas. Whoever sings it, Bing Crosby or Michael Buble, Whitney Houston or Josh Groban.

    Just the first strains are more than enough to work up the tear ducts –
    I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love

    Even more than I usually do

    And although I know it’s a long road back

    I promise you…

    Thoughts of toiling fathers in the desert sand, of seafaring husbands amid the winter seas; of care-giving mothers in some retirement home, of child-rearing sisters in some high-rise flats – all of them longing, pining —    

    I’ll be home for Christmas
    You can count on me
    Please have snow and mistletoe

    And presents under the tree
    Aye, presents under the tree, but not so much – indeed, not ever – for snow and mistletoe. As for simbang gabi and bibingka, puto bumbong, suman and tamales. And – above all – family —  

    Christmas eve will find you
    Where the love light gleams

    At the Misa de Aguinaldo singing Gloria in excelsis welcoming with the angels and the shepherds the birth of the Savior. And then, from the humblest hovels to the grandest mansions, the whole family, in prayerful thanksgiving, partaking of the noche buena feast.  

    I’ll be home for Christmas
    If only in my dreams.

    The overseas Filipino worker sings. And I just can’t help but cry with him.

    Still, he can dream of some homecoming.

    Alas, that is not so with the Mindanao folk uprooted, displaced, death-visited by typhoon Pablo.

    Home for Christmas is now all in the heart, pained memories of what once was.

    Of them, what can we sing?

    Only dirges to haunt the barely surviving.
    But there in the Book a cause for some soul-uplifting: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” 

    No home at His aborning. Home for all mankind is in Him.

    We are all home at Christmas in Him. Rejoice.

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