color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Not Wanting Christmas to Come

Monday, December 20, 2004

Not Wanting Christmas to Come

Sounds bizarre, I know. Christmas is my most favorite holiday. Not because of the presents, but because of the extreme sense of family it engenders.
When I was really little and my father was still with us, we had the most spectacular Christmas mornings: the tree (white flock with the most dazzling golden ornaments -- but only gold ones!) would be piled high with the most incredible presents -- Chatty Cathy, dancing dolls, miniature pianos, personal record players (remember record players?), bicycles, baby carriages, Barbie dolls, dollhouses... When my father was gone and my mother was left to raise 7 children under the age of 10 by herself, there were Christmases when there wasn't even one store bought present under the tree but only our most cherished possessions, each wrapped in newspaper and given to each other. So when I became a wage earner in high school, giving presents in our house took on a special meaning. I can't remember many presents I received, but I can recall almost every present I ever gave my brothers and sisters.

When we (now grown) officially became "middle class" I spent too much money to make sure that our children squealed with glee upon viewing the tree each Christmas morning and it made my heart soar when one of the children each year would exclaim, "This was the best Christmas EVER!"

And it's still not the presents. We have honored family traditions -- the cookies and cakes, who will play Santa Claus (sometimes the oldest, sometimes the youngest, this year the soldier) to dispense the bounty from under our tree, the stories we tell, the decorations around the home, the prayers we recite.

But Christmas getting here faster this year just means that the day he will deploy will get here faster, too. Maybe I don't want Christmas not to come, but get here and not go. Just stay. I know in my head that I can't keep "that day" from coming, but I want time to slow down so that I have more time with him here. Here where he is safe. Here where no one is shooting at my precious man-child. Where he gets three squares a day and all the stuff in between... Where a cold drink of water is just steps away and the bed he sleeps in is soft and warm and bug free. Here where no one is trying to blow him up or propell a rocket through him or his vehicle. Here where he is but a phone call or quick plane ride away. Here where we -- I -- can touch him, hug him, laugh with him. Here. Not there.

It's not like one or more of our children haven't missed a Christmas at home now and then. Our Navy sons have been stationed away for Christmases, and our daughter has had commitments as an EMT (and now as a medical student) that have prevented her from being with us on Christmas. It is different when your loved one is in a war zone. It just is.

When this Christmas comes, it means it will be mere days until he is wisked away from us. If Christmas comes.. and then goes... his last Christmas with us for at least a year... next Christmas will be the first ever he won't wake in our home...

I think I hate Christmas. Maybe not this Christmas. Maybe I hate next Christmas. Maybe I'll take Grisham's advice and skip next Christmas. Maybe we'll simply reschedule next Christmas until he is home again.


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