Driving Home For Christmas
by James Lamont
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To reflect on the journeys people make to be with family at Christmas.
Preparation and materials
- You could show the opening scenes of the film Love Actually, where you see people arriving at Heathrow airport and being greeted by their loved ones. If you do, you will need the means to show the film and to check copyright.
- Decide whether or not you wish to include Step 5 of the ‘Assembly’. If you have students who travel long distances for Christmas or have relations coming to stay who come from a long way, asking them to share their experiences can add depth and interest to the assembly. If you do include it, plan with your participants what sorts of things they will say.
- Have available the song ‘Driving home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
- What does Christmas mean to you? For many Christians, it is a celebration of the birth and life of Jesus, but many others find this time of year has great meaning for them for other reasons. As well as presents, special food and Doctor Who, there are many for whom Christmas has a special something about it: the chance to reconnect with family and friends who live a great distance away.
- In 1986, the singer Chris Rea released what has become a classic Christmas song – ‘Driving home for Christmas’. The song captures the feelings of many: ‘It's gonna take some time but I'll get there.’ He sings about making a long journey, but the joy of seeing his family keeps him going. For him, that is Christmas.
- If you've ever been around Heathrow airport in the days leading up to Christmas, you'll have found that the arrivals areas are even busier than usual. Many British people live and work abroad, but, at Christmas, those who can want to make their way back home. The sight of families reconnecting after very long flights is beautiful – truly happy moments happen in a place not exactly known for bringing joy.
Show opening scenes of Love Actually, if using.
- Christmas may be mainly significant in Western nations, but other countries have their homecoming rituals as well. The Chunyun (spring festival or Chinese New Year) in China is the world's largest annual human migration, with millions of Chinese returning to their home towns to spend the festival with their families. Enormous crowds can form at train stations and airports at this time.
Human beings generally feel the need to take time to visit the people they love. We are fortunate that modern technology enables such journeys to be made in hours, rather than taking days or weeks.
- If including, ask your participants to share their experiences at this point in the assembly.
Time for reflection
Sharing joy of returning home from afar is also important. In his song, Chris Rea says, ‘I take a look at the driver next to me. He's just the same.’ Driving, which can be a mundane or frustrating experience, at Christmas becomes a shared experience.
Christmas brings people together – the people we know and love and those we’ve never met before. When else do British people stop and greet total strangers with a warm and friendly message?!
Christmas can mean many things to different people, but what unites them is that it is shared with others. This was put really well in the US sitcom Community: ‘the longest, coldest, darkest night can also be the warmest and brightest.’ The cold of winter is pushed aside for a day by the warmth of people's hearts.
‘Driving home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea