“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”

  — John Ed Pearce

Today begins a weekend of homecoming.  Long before my alarm clock was set to ring, I found myself lying awake and anticipating the good things today will bring.  Before time for lunch, my eldest son, Max, and his family will pull up to our door and unleash the excitement that always travels with them when they make the long trip from Georgia to Pennsylvania.  My little grandsons will stand tall and show me that they are not as little as I remember them.  They will tell me their stories and show me their new accomplishments, and I will think of the time when their father was small and smile as history repeats itself once again.

Soon there will be others arriving for the gathering — the sons and daughters who live nearby and stop to see us more frequently will all descend at once.  I often wish that Max and Lauren lived closer so we could see them more often; but on this day of homecoming I realize that we would not have such events or celebrate them with the same vigor if they were added to the group who stop on a whim and join us for a sandwich.  All the siblings will be together, just as they were when they were young; but as time has worked its magic and made them all adults, they will seem to be the same age, and I will forget that they used to be teens, tweens, and toddlers whose lives had no common ground but home.  All the cousins will come to play; and their common history will make them instant friends, even though they meet only twice each year.  We will bring in the extra table and make a “T” with our dining table so that everyone can gather to share a meal.  We will tell the old stories and catch up on the new ones and join our hands as we form a circle and sing, “the Lord is good to me…” our traditional blessing on the gathering and the food.

I will fall into bed at the end of the day, eager to rest after such a busy time; but there will be a special feeling of contentment that eases any aching feet or sore shoulders.  That feeling is homecoming; and there is nothing better than having our family come home.

On Sunday, we will form a caravan of cars and minivans and make a three-hour trip to New York state for another homecoming.  My sweetheart’s parents will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary; and we all will join in to honor their love for each other and the way it has trickled down to our tiniest grandson.  The siblings will all be together, just as they were when they were young.  Their children will all be together, transformed by time from children to adults who know the old stories about their parents’ escapades and can tell them almost as well as their elders.  The children’s children will run and play and make a lot of noise as only can be made by more than thirty cousins who are filled with excitement and the anticipation of cake.

What a homecoming it will be, as nine children, 24 grandchildren, and 33 great-grandchildren — plus spouses and significant others — all gathered to celebrate the legacy of love that is part of being a Jones.  We will laugh and be noisy and sometimes shed a tear or two as we remember the ones who did not make it to that special day.  And as we all join hands and Grandpa’s voice booms out the first note — “The….”, we will join our hearts and know that we are home.  “The Lord is good to me…”  All because two people fell in love, and two more, and two more after that, we carry our home in our hearts.  And when those hearts join together and greet each other, it is a homecoming.