The Seasonal Sadness of Never Going Home for Christmas

close up of christmas decorations
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I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is one of the most popular and endearing songs of the last century.  You probably hear it several times a day this time of year.  It has been a perennial favorite on radio and across all types of media for generations.  It can also be one of the most depressingly sad songs imaginable for many who have “no home to go home to”.

For many older Americans, the scenes portrayed in the song make literal sense, evoking memories of large family gatherings where dozens of people came together at Grandmas or perhaps at church socials. Potluck dinners with great home cooking and dozens of cakes and pies to sample were the norm around the holidays (but don’t eat Aunt Jenny’s mincemeat pie!)  We can still remember the warmth and smell of the fireplace when we were drinking hot cocoa after a day of winter sledding, our boots and mittens dripping in the corner. And we recall dozens of gifts under the tree (and rolling our eyes when we got socks and school supplies).

But imagine if you hear the powerful sentimental words of this song, and you are a Millennial or young adult in America from a divorced family and you have never even once had a Christmas celebration where multiple generations all gathered together in a joyous celebration.  Imagine if you have never experienced a home “where the lovelight gleams”.  Perhaps your experience of Christmas is just a packed shopping mall, or Black Friday crush at Walmart, and your experience of a holiday dinner is the Twenty piece nugget platter from your favorite fast food restaurant.

I wish I could somehow give to children today, the experiences I had of growing up and being loved by my family, my friends, and my church. I wish I could somehow give the unconditional love that I received to millions of lonely young adults and children today. But I cannot. Nevertheless it is worth considering the trends that have caused some of these changes. As an older American, I can easily remember when the home was still the center of American life. Remember the days of “Baseball, Hot Dogs, and Apple Pie”? Schools and churches were important, but the home was essential. Family life was the absolute cornerstone of society. Boys used to argue (brag) over who’s dad could “whup the hardest” (even though most of us never got more than a few spankings in our entire lives.) A man’s home was his castle, and American society was built on a million little castles.

The home and the family are God’s design for the cornerstone of a stable society.    Deuteronomy chapter 6:5-7 reads “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Nothing is better than the family for passing along God’s teaching to new generations.  The family is designed to be the core, basic unit of a stable society.  “The second pillar of a decent society is the institution of the family, which is built upon the comprehensive sexual union of man and woman. No other institution can top the family’s ability to transmit what is pivotal—character formation, values, virtues, and enduring love—to each new generation.“(1)

American politicians, unfortunately, had other ideas.  Social policy makers over the last 60 years have passed one disastrous law after another, wreaking havoc on the family.  Laws designed to “relieve suffering” and “battle poverty” have had the unintended consequences of creating an epidemic of emotional illness and making poverty more frequent, not less.  As stated by the Economic Policy Institute:  “Before the mid-1970s, economic growth in the United States was associated with falling poverty rates. If that relationship had held, poverty would have been eradicated in the 1980s. (2)  But approximately 15 percent (over 46 million Americans) were still officially in poverty in 2010.  But how did this occur? There are of course many factors and plenty of blame to go around; from greedy corporations, to corrupt career politicians, to plain old laziness and sinfulness in human nature. But central to is all is the destruction of the American family.

When government pays all the costs of raising kids if you are a single mom, but still requires two parent homes to pay taxes and buy insurance, there are consequences.  When politicians pass a law to give free prenatal care to unwed mothers while charging full price to married moms, there are repercussions.  When the working poor families can’t afford health insurance, but medical care is FREE for those who don’t work, there are will be effects on the family and society.  When schools teach atheism and ridicule faith, there are consequences. When grade school children are allowed to have abortions, and instructed on gender re-assignment  without parental notification, and on and on… when social policies for decades are made to favor virtually every facet or fragment of society EXCEPT the nuclear family, the family suffers and the home is destroyed with it.

And one day, we have an entire generation who does not know what it means to go home for Christmas.  One day we have no home to which we can go. Not even for Christmas.


Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year.  And most of all love.




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Emergency Room Physician. Student of science and student of scripture. Defending truth in a post-truth society. I believe that Truth exists, and I believe it is our duty and privilege to seek it out, amidst ignorance, frivolity, and misconceptions.

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