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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Going Home*****

*Chicago Tribune
December 21, 2010
as "Time to go home"

KWGN TV/CW 2 Denver, CO
December 21, 2010
as "Time to go home"

*Somerset, PA Daily American 
as "Time to Go Home"
December 23, 2010

*Pittsburgh, PA Post-Gazette
December 23, 2010
as "Going Home for Christmas: 
Our Men and Women in Uniform are On Their Way"

*Waterbury, CT Republican-American
December 24, 2010
as "Wartime Songs Live on for the Holidays"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

It was October 1943, and the United States was almost two years into World War II.  The immediate dangers of 1942 had passed and some significant victories had been won.  But everyone knew that a lot of hard slogging still lay ahead before victory could be declared. 

Every day, those dreaded yellow telegrams kept coming.  And in those windows, a blue star turned to gold.

The coming Christmas season would be bittersweet.  Families would gather, their celebrations muted by the gaping absence of a son who was far away in a strange place, facing danger.  Sons who were still home would be leaving soon to join the fight.  And as the holidays approached, hearts separated by 10,000 miles would all feel the same wistful ache.

The world of popular music has a way of articulating the latent emotions of a particular time and place.  That October, a crooner named Bing Crosby released a song that put words to those tender feelings and dark fears.  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was a wartime song, to be sure.  But the words have touched every generation since.

I am 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

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

It is a rare family that still keeps its members close.  Most times, children become adults and leave the nest.  Part of the reason is relocating to where their careers are, and where future’s promise glows brightest.  But mainly, it’s the innate desire of all youth to go their own way; to have the freedom to write their own story.  But even for the fiercely independent, there will come that moment when memories overcome adventure; when the desire for “home” overwhelms pride.  And somewhere in America, a doorbell rings, and a door is opened to a joyous reunion.

In 2010, America is once again at war.  Tens of thousands of Americans serve their country in places where bullets fly and bombs explode.  And those soldiers will yearn for even a few hours in that special place where they are safe and loved.

But it’s not only the war zones.  There are some 370,000 Americans stationed or deployed in 150 different countries and at sea, ranging from England and Germany, to St. Helena and Diego Garcia.  Far from home and family, they also serve their country and the cause of freedom. 

And they are just as homesick.

Christmas Eve will find you
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Home is often thought of as a house, a structure sitting on a piece of land.  But it is so much more.  It is the one place where we are loved unconditionally.  It is the place where we grew up, safe and protected. 

Too often as adults, we have to posture. We are pressured to present mask and costume to a boss, coworker, and professional acquaintance.  This might be conducive to conducting business, but often has very little to do with who we truly are.  After awhile, that veneer becomes a burden.  And in the lie we have to live, we lose that sense of self.

But once we cross the doorstep and fall into the arms of Dad and Mom, the burden falls and for a few precious days, we are free to be ourselves.  We no longer have to worry about impressions.  We are safe among those who already know us; who accept and understand us; who love us, without condition.

When we dream of “home for the holidays,” it’s not really a place.  It is rather that particular piece of heaven that exists in our memories and in our hearts.  It may not be the same house we grew up in, or even the same city.  But where family is; where we are safe and warm; where we are loved, that is what home is.  And when our men and women in uniform dream of coming home for the holidays, it is that place of the heart to which they go.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Go to your heart. Go home for the holidays. 

And may Peace find you there.

Merry Christmas!

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