Right now the hubby is outside stringing lights all around our gutters, Maggie is carefully watching him on that ladder (and probably trying to figure out how she can get out there too), and I’m in the kitchen making gingerbread for our good friends visiting from Ohio tomorrow. Perry Como and Dean Martin are singing glad tidings and good will towards men from our sound system, and there are so many pine scent-cicles stuck in our tree it smells like we’re living in a forest (which makes Andrew suuuper happy). Hands down, this is my favorite time of the year.
And the greatest part of all is that in just a few weeks we’ll pack up all the presents and the pup, hop in the car, and head back home to Nebraska! We’ll have been gone for just three months by the time we get back to Omaha, but I am so thankful it wasn’t any longer than that. I am going to be simply thrilled to be in the same room with the people I love the most. But I feel just a teensy bit bad for being so happy. Living in a military community, every one of our neighbors is in the service. They’re all transplanted here from somewhere else in the country, and for some of them, other parts of the world. I just have to wonder, how many of them will be able to go home for Christmas?
For those of you unfamiliar with the military, taking leave (time off work) can be a tricky thing. You get two days of leave for each month you’ve worked, but if you, your husband, or your wife is deemed “mandatory personnel” or “mission-essential personnel,” like the Security Forces, you can pretty much count on the fact that he or she will be working most weekends and any and all holidays. And those who are “mandatory personnel” don’t include the husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers who are deployed right now.
I know we all love to see the homecoming videos, especially during the holidays (oh, the tears!), but the fact is that those Christmas homecomings happen very rarely. If a loved one is on a six or nine or even a 12-month deployment over the holidays, chances are they aren’t going to be able to come home. War (that’s right I said it, we are fighting a war) doesn’t discriminate. There’s no time-out because it’s your anniversary, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, no cease-fire on Christmas day. And if your service member is given the opportunity to come home, many of them will selflessly give up their own slots to individuals who have young children, expecting wives, or simply have been over there for a longer amount of time.
In the back of my mind I know that in just a few years time, I will be one of those military wives with a husband deployed at Christmas; my best friends will eventually be those women too. There are roughly 20,000 of these wives this holiday season, and there even more families who will be apart due to loved ones being “mission-essential personnel” and other unfortunate circumstances, like not having enough leave or being stationed in another country, like my brother in-law. I am so thankful that these things do not apply to Andrew and I this year. I am even more thankful that all of my friends will get to be with those they love most too.
So if you are going to be with your family and friends, at home or abroad, this year, hug them tight and be so, so thankful for the time you have together. If you know someone in the military or someone who has a family member in the service, hug them even tighter. For those of you who are military wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters, I am thinking of you and praying for you this holiday season. And I am so thankful for the service of your loved one, especially if they wont be home for Christmas.