The Secret Longings of Christmas

Why do people celebrate Christmas? After all, society has rejected the baby in the manger. I’ve come to believe that, consciously or unconsciously, people correlate Christmas with meeting deep emotional and spiritual needs—they desire home, love, and happiness.


Think about how we grow sentimental listening to the song, I’ll be home for Christmas. It evokes images of family and friends gathered around a softly lit tree, of laughter and happy togetherness. Home is supposed to be the place where we belong, where we’re accepted and loved. It’s a haven of comfort, peace, and safety. Home is a cherished ideal in our hearts, especially because of what we believe it’s supposed to be and often is not. Many times our homes do not protect us from the cold realities of life. They’re not places of warmth and acceptance, so we yearn for harmony in our relationships and peace in our world. Perhaps the most unsettling truth about the earthly places we call home is their transitory nature. Our souls remain restless for permanence, for that place where we’ll never have to say goodbye again, to anyone or anything.


The good news is that Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you…” He’s readying a permanent home for every believer. Imagine Him decorating heaven, attending to every detail in happy anticipation of our coming. Family and friends gone before wait, too. When we finally arrive on heaven’s doorstep, the door will fling wide open and our loved ones will greet us with cries of joy. We’ll be home at last—safe, warm, comforted.


Christmas is also a time when we want to be close to those we love. That first Christmas after I met my husband, the whole world seemed lit just for me. I dreamed of a white Christmas and “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” Everything about Christmas that year shimmered with promise. Heaven will be the culmination of history’s greatest romance, of Christ and His bride. Since we were created for a person, it makes sense that our longings will not end until at last we’re together. 


Finally, Christmas is about celebration. Think about how we do it: the food, decorations, gifts, and parties. Underneath all the festivities, aren’t we just longing to be happy? Picture our open-mouthed wonder when we walk through those pearly gates. It will be like a magical Christmas, only far better: the music—angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus maybe; the décor—streets of transparent gold, city walls sparkling with sapphires, emeralds, topaz, and amethysts; the light—the glory of God. The Bible tells us that “there will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun…for the glory of God gives [the city its] light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”


We will be invited to enter where the tree of life stands, and the Lord will pass out presents. In Revelations 2, we read about some of these gifts: “To him who overcomes, I will give the crown of life…I will give him a white stone with a new name written on it… I will give him the morning star.” Imagine our wonder and amazement!


Then, not unlike a family Christmas dinner, we’ll be ushered into the wedding feast of the Lamb, a place pulsating with unrestrained, intoxicated joy. I look forward to indulging in all that good food without one fleeting thought to my hips. Talk about a party! Glorious ambiance, music that will surely inspire us to dance, being with all the ones we love . . . 


Oh, I’ll so want to be home that heavenly Christmas. But for now, it shall remain “only in my dreams.”


Ruth Wood, wife and mother of two grown children, writes at and is finishing a Master’s degree in counseling.