Pause in Advent 3: “Driving Home for Christmas”
This is just a little early. But I’m sure you’ll forgive me!
I’ve had some positive comments about the last two songs that I’ve posted, as they have been new to many of you. This next one is probaly not new: it’s one of those that is fairly ubiquitous at this time of year. It is on all the Christmas Compilations, with its jaunty tune and sleigh bells – but there is a poignant quality about it too.
Chris Rea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” was released in 1988, and I think my memories of it must be from that year, or maybe the year after. I have related this before, but as it is the reason I am including this song, I think it bears telling again. Mr D was working in London, and we lived in Milton Keynes at the time: one Christmas we were going up to see mum and dad in Liverpool for the Christmas weekend, and Mr D had to work on the Friday. So we decided that, rather than wait for him to arrive in MK, mid afternoon, and then do the journey amidst all the late evening traffic , I would drive to Liverpool by myself and he’d take the train. It was the first time I’d driven any great distance by myself, and I was nervous, but everything went reasonably well, until hitting the M6 around Birmingham. Traffic ground to a halt and frustration set in – but this song came onto the radio:
The words were so apt: as Wikipedia relates: In a live interview on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today on 16 December 2009 Rea said he wrote “Driving Home for Christmas” many years before he first recorded it. His wife had come down to London to drive him home to Middlesbrough in her Austin Mini to save money because it was cheaper to drive than travel by train. Inspiration for the song came as she and Rea were stuck in heavy traffic heading out of London with a long drive to Middlesbrough ahead of them. Rea said “Driving Home for Christmas” is a “car version of a carol”
Driving home for Christmas
Oh, I can’t wait to see those faces
The words sum up the anticipation I felt; I always get excited about seeing people I love and don’t see that often. Sometimes, it must be admitted, the anticipation is better than actually seeing them, as arguments, niggles etc get in the way, but it is a wonderful thing to have a family to share with.
It’s gonna take some time
But I’ll get there
Top to toe in tail-lights
Oh, I got red lights all around
Oh yes, there really were red lights all around as I sat in that traffic jam, but the next line
But soon there’ll be a freeway
Get my feet on holy ground
Yes…soon traffic would start moving again – and I love the idea that being with loved ones (wherever that might be, whoever that might be) is like being on “holy ground”. Where love is, there Christ is also.
And for me, particularly poignant are the words
So I sing for you
Though you can’t hear me
When I get through
And feel you near me
I am driving home for Christmas
Driving home for Christmas
With a thousand memories
We all have those we have loved and lost; Christmas is a time when perhaps, more than ever, we feel the pain. People who should be there are there no longer; people we loved we can only remember. Christmas is a time of memories, when we feel them near.
And it is this idea that has inspired my journal pages this week: family and those we have loved and lost:
On the left hand page I painted some trees in black, sparkling with snow, as if one is driving through the dark. The photo shows most of my family – actually taken on a family holiday about 10 years ago – sharing a meal together. On the right hand page, I’ve taken parts of the song that resonate with me, and stuck photos of two members of the family who have died: my dad (not necessarily his best photo!! I took this one Christmas, as you can tell from the paper hat, worn at a rakish angle) and my brother’s first wife, mum to Rose and Ruth. She died quite some years ago, and now Mike is happily married – so I have included a photo of him with his new wife, her girls and Rose and Ruth as well. Life has its tragedies, but there is also love and beauty that come from these losses as well.
This is probably my last Pause – I fly to the UK tomorrow – so I want to wish you all a very happy Christmas: be at peace with your memories, be blessed by our Living Lord and be joyful with the Christmas angels.