Many people believe that the most magical time of year is Christmas, which seems to start a week earlier every year. Especially during deployments where you feel a little less jolly. And by a little less jolly, I mean l almost dropkicked a lighted snowman display clear across Target because I heard Josh Groban’s version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” one too many times this holiday season. I refrained, however, because I didn’t want to spill my venti peppermint mocha. I’m not a monster.
There are so many things I’d rather just avoid this year without him here. The radio. Excessive Christmas decorations. The mall. People. Joy. The laundry. And yet I find myself in the throng of glad tidings and cheer and 5 percent off LOL dolls despite my greatest efforts.
Because life still seems to go on, doesn’t it? Despite my greatest efforts, the world and the people who inhabit my little part of it still demand my attention. There’s still Santa to see, dance recitals to help monitor, decorations to put up, and cards to send. I feel a little bit like The Grinch. Despite my greatest efforts it’s here. Christmas came just the same. Rude.
I’ve had to explain to the kiddos on more than one occasion that while Santa is pretty much the biggest deal this side of Labor Day…..even he has his limits. No, Santa can’t bring Daddy home. No, it’s not because Daddy is too big to fit in a box. It’s because while their Christmas wish might be to see their daddy again, there are many, many kids out there who wish for safety. Who wish for a silent night without fear of what lies outside their door.
And that’s Daddy’s job. To grant those wishes and to help little kids just like them. His job isn’t done yet and so he’ll have to pick up that free sleigh ride with Santa another year.
Sure they struggle through this season without him, too. But they still have the gift of magic wrapped up in hope and excitement. It’s a little harder when you know that your Christmas Eve doesn’t consist of waiting to hear hooves on the roof. Just the hope that the garage wall muffles your swearing as you try to rip the batteries out of a demonic toy that is not going in that PJ Mask wrapping paper without a fight.
But it’s called the Christmas season because it’s just that. A season. This too shall pass and you’re a whole other season closer to having your wish come true and a deployment ended.
Don’t lose sight that these are memories you will have forever, with or without your spouse. You will remember the acute longing and the weight of carrying on the magic alone. But you will also remember laughter. The joy in your loved ones faces. The family, and the friends that might as well be, who rallied around you and kept you afloat. You can still live and celebrate and have an amazing Christmas season with the other half of your heart across the globe. It just takes a little more effort and a little more patience, especially with yourself.
And remember to save movies like “Love Actually” and songs like “Blue Christmas” for times you actually have ice cream and wine at the ready. That was a bad path I chose way too early into the season. I’ve grown a lot since then.
So don your ugliest Christmas sweater and stock up on eggnog. Christmas is coming ready or not, and only you can make it a good one!