This poem speaks for itself. It was written during the Christmas season just before the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. Though a bit sad, it does remind us of what is truly important in life.

I?ll be home for Christmas, or so the story goes,
is repeated year after year.
Regardless of weather or holiday traffic,
you?ll find your way home clean and clear.
Christmas is one of the times we?re together,
we smile and we talk and we eat.
By the end of the day we?re all stuffed to the gills.
and have trouble even seeing our feet!
We always meet at the homeplace and sit ?round the tree,
the tradition has gone on for years.
Catch up on the news and what?s happening with us,
and laugh ?till our eyes fill with tears.
Then we open our presents and show what we got,
what the paper and bows have kept hid.
It?s the one time of year we can let down our guard,
and behave once again like a kid.
Sometimes we?ll do fireworks or rock on the porch,
the weather determines our play.
If the temp is too cold or the sky?s filled with rain,
there are other fun things done today.
Like talking some more, or drinking some Joe,
or thinking of times that are gone.
This day, it reminds us if we don?t stand together,
then we never will stand all alone.
Finally, late in the evening when all things wind down,
we load up our cars and we leave.
But the memories we make on each Christmas day,
are memories that we always will keep.
Now forward your thinking to Christmas that?s here,
this year is not like before.
For you slipped away in January past,
your presence is with us no more.
You won?t be home for Christmas, this year or the next,
only memories to share on this day.
And instead of the laughter and catching up on news,
we find words have become hard to say.
But we want to enjoy it, this time we?re together,
we want to inhale every sight.
We?re reminded how precious that each Christmas day is,
since the snuffing of your spirit?s light.
It seems sort of strange, and also so odd,
to act as if nothing has changed.
When we all must admit in our own unique way,
that our lives have now been rearranged.
We still talk and laugh, and share a great meal together,
all the turkey, the goodies and such.
Yet it all seems so different and somehow not right,
all these things that we once loved so much.
For you won?t be home this Christmas, that?s how it goes,
will be repeated now year after year.
And the things like weather and holiday traffic,
have nothing to do with the cheer.
You won?t be hindered, you cannot be delayed,
for you won?t even be here at all.
No matter our longing or even our wishing,
you won?t ever answer our call.
Can Christmas be the same as it has in years gone by?
Will the pain of your absence not cease?
We can only imagine and hope for the future,
that your life truly ended in peace.
So, while you won?t be home for Christmas, we will for sure,
in spite of the pain and our loss.
For the sadness we feel if we fail to connect,
will not justify the great cost.

Roland Cavanaugh is on staff at a large church serving as the Pastor of Congregational Care and Sr. Adults. He has self-published a book about his late father, “For As Long As I Can.” You can find ordering information here.

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