I’m dreamin’ 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

It started when I was two years old. 

I had my first “international” Christmas “away from home”.

Yet in was in a country I held a passport to. And I was surrounded by my aunts, uncles, and cousins for the first time.

I’ll be home for Christmas, New Zealand.

Then passed many Christmases in my birthplace and hometown. However, as the youngest sibling with brothers in international missions, Christmas wasn’t always a grand reunion. A precious season, but very different from my friends with family born and raised in one country.

I’ll be home for Christmas, Hawaii, USA. 

It continued again when I was twenty years old. 

I had my second “international” Christmas “away from home”. This time, I didn’t hold a passport to this country. But as a citizen of another, I had residency in this one. And more of my immediate family was in this country compared to any other. I experienced Christmas traditions I’d heard about for years. And most precious of all, I held my niece for the first time.

I’ll be home for Christmas, Australia.

Since then, it so happens I’ve alternated Christmas locations every year. After I graduated university, I went back to Hawaii. Then, after I finished my DTS in Australia, I just stayed because once again there were more of my immediate family there than any other place. This year? I’m doing a two-year-old-Kayla throwback, and staying in New Zealand– surrounded by my aunts, uncles, and even more cousins in a beautiful beach-side house.

I will be home for Christmas. I always have been.

But what does that even mean?

It also means that I get homesick every Christmas, too. 

As my little cousins chatter with each other, I miss banter with my brothers. Yet the last time we were all together for Christmas was when I was ten years old. I FaceTime my parents, yet they’re not in Hawaii. Instead they’re experiencing their first white Christmas with my brothers’ in-laws in New England! And last week, as I bundled up in the still-brisk New Zealand summer, I imagined sun-scorched Newcastle Beach in Australia. And I cried.

Why cry? Kayla Norris, you’re going to have so much fun this Christmas, and you will go back. I lecture myself. You will see your family again, you will experience Anna Bay on Boxing Day again. Your family isn’t even there at the moment. Your friends have gone home for Christmas, too. 

But there I remember my text conversation with my DTS bestie, Lia, only a day ago.

Me: Can I call you in a bit? Or when would be good for you?

Lia: Can we wait and FaceTime when I get home? I have some things I’m working on now and plans later.

Me: Home as in US yeah?

Lia: US home lol sorry. Too many homes.

However, we started to chat about what Jesus showed me a few years ago. It’s not many homes, it’s one– with many different rooms. Some we sleep in, some we eat in, some our siblings live in– but it’s all our home. (There may have been Australian flag and cricket-bat emojis in said conversation, haha).

But over the past five years, a lie snuck into the recesses of my heart– I don’t have one place to go for Christmas, so I don’t belong to any of them. It was my if-everyone’s-super-no-one-is reasoning. However, I’ve discovered the lesson that I suppose all people learn as they grow up, marry, have kids– regardless if they’re a dual-citizen YWAM Kid or not. “Home” shifts and changes from one location, to the people you’re with. 

And with high risk of sounding absolutely cliche, we discover, home is with the one you love.

It wrecks me every Christmas, and I can’t seem to get past it, no matter how hard I try. That we have someone that gave up all the celebrations and fanfare of a season to come and simply be with us, right where we lived, the muddy stable mess that is this earth.

Wasn’t it even His name? Immanuel. 

God with us. 

So wherever you find yourself this Christmas, whatever country, whoever you’re missing, remember a God that decided to make the human heart His home. 

Because I hear Him whisper now, with a smile–

I’ll be home for Christmas.

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, 
and my Father will love him, 
and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
-John 14:23 (ESV)
Photos: Aussie, Kiwi, and USA flags; YWAM Lautoka, Fiji. Window on Fiji Airways. Oct 2016.
Quote: “Home for Christmas” Lyrics by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, and Buck Ram.
Originally performed by Bing Crosby.