Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Christmas Bells,” which is used in the song above, while he was grieving the fact that his nation was at war. He was lonely on Christmas because his son had left to fight in the Civil War. Loneliness around Christmas time is a pain that mocks the song, peace on earth and good will to men. Christmas would have been extremely difficult for me if I hadn’t been able to see my dad open his Tim Tebow jersey or my mom unwrap her new cook wear. It’s nice to think about peace on earth and good will to men, but my selfish desire was to be home. Unfortunately I didn’t make it home. I decided to stay in Guatemala so I could go to Hawaii this summer with my family, but it meant my first Christmas away from my family. But Christmas Eve, as the old familiar carols played, it was very difficult. Mostly because those carols were in spanish, but also because they made me think of home.
Every year of my life, as far as I know, I’ve spent every Christmas Eve helping my dad out at church. If you define the word help by fighting with Katie, my older sister, in front of 1,000 people, or dropping the lighter as I tried to light the Christ candle, setting the sanctuary carpet on fire. But this year I celebrated Christmas Eve Spanish style, with the sermon and carols in Spanish. I know all of the Christmas carols by heart, but it was dang near impossible to sing in English while everyone else was singing in Spanish. I forced myself to try to sing with them, but wild and sweet the words repeated with more of a fra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra! (At least I wasn’t being forced to eat Chinese food like Ralphie) Yet as I heard the bells on Christmas Eve I thought how, as the night had come, there were fireworks to be lit. The blasts were strong and the colors bright. Then peeled the bombs more loud and clear. It was midnight and the birth of Christ had come.
As weird as it may seem, I woke up on Christmas morning with the lyrics I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams in my head. Maybe in my dreams I had been able to make it home for Christmas. Instead I woke up in my bed in Guatemala. At 7:30 am on Christmas morning, I’ve never been one to sleep in on Christmas day, a cold fog still weighed itself over Xela. It made it seem a little like a white Christmas. It was cold so I hopped back in bed and waited for my parents to Skype me.
8 came and went and as great of an invention as Skype is, it still takes two to tango. Fortunately gmail has a nifty little call function that allows me to make free calls to the states. I called up my dad on his cellphone. He answered with a sound of shock in his voice and immediately hopped on Skype. I was able to be home for Christmas via modern technology. I enjoyed watching Emmy, my sister, open up my gift for her. While we were shopping in Antigua, she eyed a coffee bag purse. I knew she wanted to buy it for herself so I had to convince her it was hideous. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Try convincing a fashionista something they think is cool is fopa. Ha! What do I really know about style. But she listened to me and was pleasantly surprised when she unwrapped her gift. It was very special. It’s beautiful how something as simple as giving a gift can bring to mind peace on earth.
I was blessed to Skype with my family and spend the day with friends that I have made down here. If everyone can spend Christmas being reminded they are loved, the wrong shall fail and the right prevail and we’ll all be home for Christmas.