By Jade Stone
Christmas is definitely here! Conversations of holiday plans and gifts fill the air along with endless Christmas carols around every corner. This truly is one of my most favorite times of year. Everyone tries to be a little nicer, a little kinder, and even a little more generous. By now, families have made plans determining who will go where on what day. For me, this is one of the most stressful processes during the holidays. I always worry about making the rounds and making sure we get to see everyone so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings before the winter break is over. When your family lives within a 50-mile radius, it’s not such a terrible thing, however, when your family lives 4 hours away in another state, serious problems can arise.
Up until this year, we’ve always done Christmas Eve here and then on Christmas Day we do the present opening ritual and hop in the car and drive to my folks’ home in Missouri for the family dinner. But this year, as hard as it was to make this decision (and to my mom’s dismay) we decided to stay home.
I’ve always been a little conflicted about having to leave our home Christmas day instead of just enjoying the afternoon. But this year is a little unique. Our decision was based on two things: First, we want Jess to be able to wake up and not be rushed through the morning so that we may be able to have a nice big breakfast and indulge in an afternoon of Christmas joy.
It’s one of the few Christmases that we have left to enjoy Jess’ childhood years. He’s 5 now, which is such a curious time in his life. Every day is a new discovery, but he will be 7 when Jay returns. Sure, there will still be fun to have but there’s just something about the twinkle in a child’s eyes the first couple of times he or she experiences the magic of Christmas before society begins to creep in and erase the mystery of Santa Clause!
The second reason is that this will be Jay’s last Christmas before deploying, and werre determined to make it one of the best by relishing every moment. We’ve decided to do nothing that takes away from our little family spending the holiday together. I know this may seem a little dark to some because no one wants to look at the holidays and imagine it as his or her last with family as they know it, and truthfully, none of us does that. However, the reality is that it is always a possibility when dealing in war and to think otherwise is to be naïve.
I don’t care how many times people say “oh but everything is calming down now and Iraq is no longer a hot spot”, you will never convince me that it’s completely safe. We’re talking about a place where people use women and children as bombs to lure kind-hearted American soldiers in to rescue them before detonating those defenseless people in the hopes of killing a few soldiers. This is also the same place in which telling the difference between the friendlies and the enemies is near to impossible. By day they work as laborers on the base to earn a living for their families and then turn right around at night and run inside information to the Taliban. This is not true of all Iraqi nationals, however, the point is that it’s hard to tell the difference. In my opinion, saying that a particular warzone is safe is like saying “this fire won’t burn you.”
Deployments are no different to me. Yes, he’s been very lucky and came through a few close calls the first time around. But one has to consider that he might not be as lucky the next time. I’m really not a pessimist. I’m a realist. Part of this is me trying to prepare myself emotionally for all the “what ifs” and, in doing that, I try to anticipate all the possible “last chances” for things and see to it that we get to spend as much time together as a family as possible. I will certainly not take our time together for granted, as I am so thankful God has blessed me with such a wonderful family who I will cherish always.
As I close, please take a moment to remember those proudly serving our country across the world as well as the families that miss them dearly. When you take a hot shower at night and then crawl into that nice warm bed after a large home-cooked meal, remember that these individuals have sacrificed so much so that we might continue to enjoy the comforts of home.
And please don’t forget the ones who won’t return for another Christmas and the family that has lost its soldier and have only the memories of Christmas’ past to hang on to. Hug your loved ones and let them know how much you care because the truth is, none of us really knows how many more Christmases the good Lord will grant us. Let’s treat each one as though it could be the last. Have a wonderful Christmas and may God bless you and yours now and for the years to come!
Jade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at email@example.com. To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.