Holidays can be a very interesting time. They pack good memories for some, bad memories for others, and some of each for many of us. Christmas has a lot of both for me. It is a bitter sweet time of year.
My family tended toward going overboard for Christmas, especially my father, but my primary school teacher mother was never far behind him. There were always concerts, lots of them, with my Dad leading a band, playing in an orchestra, or us attending just because it was something which needed to be attended. Like the ballet. Every kid should attend multiple performances of the Nutcracker, right?
My most memorable Christmas was the one we spent leading into Desert Storm. We fashioned a Christmas tree from mosquito netting and small pieces of lumber. It was beautiful. My tent mates drew names and we had an old fashioned gift exchange. We invited others to join in a feast of goodies folks had sent to us and maybe a few things pilfered here and there. It became a grand celebration.
The Christmas my Dad died is a stand out, of course. We had the funeral before Christmas with the burial after Christmas. Very strange, but somehow so very appropriate for a Christmas guy. It actually makes me smile to think of it. His life is now something else to celebrate during the Christmas season.
This past year has been difficult, yet very fulfilling. I got to attend to my dying spouse, a duty some civilians may not understand but most of us vets know well as an honor. So many things were out of our control that it let us focus on the important things which needed to be said and done. We made it to our 25th wedding anniversary. We marked that as quite an accomplishment. No one, including us, had any surety that we would make it. We thought 20 was doable, but 25 not guaranteed, given our ages when we met. But we managed to make that milestone this past summer.
My joy this season is participating fully as a neighbor to the wonderful people who have attended to us. They gave us what we needed when we needed it expecting nothing in return. This season I get to give back to them. And, as I increasingly come out of the fog of grief, will get to focus more and more on their needs. It’s the neighborly thing to do.
Whatever Christmas means to you, may it be blessed and may you enjoy whatever direction it takes you and yours. The joys and the sadness holidays evoke are all part of what makes us and those around us.