Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Have a lovely Kwanzaa! And if you don’t celebrate anything, have an awesome day off on your employer. This is the time of family and home. It is the time you get to sip hot cocoa, unwrap gifts, share stories of the year, etc. It is really a time for family tradition and shared memories. The above clip from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York always reminds me of my childhood. It’s one of those things that my brothers and I would watch repeatedly and then at the end we would laugh hysterically at Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get pummeled by Macaulay Culkin. Good times!

This year is a new experience. This time we have a 2 year old and our newest addition to share the day with. Yep, Munchkin’s first Christmas. Toddler knows the routine pretty well, but every year is a new experience for him until he can remember it all. But, that really isn’t the purpose of my post today. As much fun as it will be absolutely thrilling to see them together at their first Christmas together that is not what I am writing about today. Today is about something else…

Tomorrow we get to celebrate with our families. Not many people get that luxury (yep, it’s a luxury). I am not trying to be uber sentimental or anything, I am simply stating a fact. My mind goes directly to those in the armed forces. This year, before Thanksgiving, Mr. G and I went to Target with the kiddos and some how got to talking to the cashier. She just casually mentioned that her husband was in some form of the armed forces (I think it was the army or air force) and she said that the reason she took the job was because she wanted something to do while she waited for his return. She said that he wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and if she was lucky she would be able to see him after the New Year. She said it so casually, like it was the norm. And it probably was the norm for her and her family. It hit me hard that this woman who was bagging our purchased items made a sacrifice… her and her husband made one of the most ultimate sacrifices that every American citizen takes for granted every holiday. They won’t be able to be together. They won’t be with their families, they will be working. This applies for certain service persons like police, firemen, first-responders (paramedics and EMTs), etc. and it made me sad.

These people sacrifice time, memories. Sometimes they give even more than that, they give their lives. My cousin is currently completing basic training for the Army and will not be with his family this Christmas. I am pretty sure this is the first time he will be away from the family for Christmas (or any holiday really), and it breaks my heart. I am so grateful for his sacrifice, for the sacrifice of all the others… if it wasn’t for them would we have a day off to celebrate? Do we bitch about having one day off opposed to the day before and the day after too? I know when I was working my day job, I was complaining constantly. Why didn’t we have more time off for _(enter annual holiday here)_ through the company? Why did we have to use vacation time? And my selfish self didn’t even think about those people who don’t even have the day off. The people who have to work and don’t get the option of “paid holidays”.

Tomorrow when we are opening gifts, sipping our eggnog, and admiring our holiday decorations dreading going to work the next day… I urge you to remember those people who are unable to be at home with their families. The EMTs who have to be available for Grandpa if he suffers his second heart-attack, or the doctors and nurses that help deliver baby so he/she can be your greatest present ever, or even the servicemen that are protecting us from the threat of North Korea (over a ridicules movie, in my opinion) or the many other potentially harmful countries, etc. These people don’t get to celebrate around a beautifully decorated tree. They don’t get to light the candles of the menorah. They don’t get to share libation or gifts. Most of all, they don’t get the day off to be with the people they love.

This year when I look at our tree Christmas morning, I will admire the handmade ornaments, I will remember the many days listening to Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song, I will see the lights twinkling, and the gifts perfectly placed beneath it.

As my children open their gifts, rummage through their stockings, and I hear the side conversations between my husband and parents… that moment I will dedicate to my cousin, Private J.D. I love you, I have been thinking about you and keeping you in my prayers. You will be getting my letter(s) soon I hope. Thank you for being my twinkling light this holiday season.

Just beautiful. Photo courtesy of my mother.

For those of you who may be interested in adopting a US Soldier or connecting with a pen pal, you can start at Adopt A US Soldier. I urge you to look around and find another organization if you aren’t interested in this one. If you choose to support a different program, you can always write to your local police department, fire department, hospital, etc. Share your thanks with the people out there who don’t get to have a holiday.

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