Memories are funny things. We live and spend our days, but those moments flee from us and are far from our memory. Then, something triggers that memory and all our thoughts, feelings, the sounds and the smells come back. Being home for Christmas means so much to us and I remember a Christmas when we weren’t able to go home.
I’ll be Home for Christmas
We were young. Oh, my, were we young. This knowledge was punctuated to me recently by the realization that our youngest daughter and her husband are at about the same age we were that Christmastime. And how different our lives and their lives are.
Dearest and I met at our place of employment. I was fresh out of college, so to speak. I hadn’t finished and was planning to return. He had completed his college and was on his planned track for beginning his career.
His laugh is the most amazing laugh I have ever heard. Everyone is drawn to his laughter. Anyone can’t help but smile or join in when he laughs. And that’s how I first met him. That’s how I first fell in love with him. I needed someone like him. He’s outgoing, gregarious and happy. I have always been the quiet, shy type completely o.k. with not being the center of attention. And serious. Grandmother had said that I was too serious and that I behaved much older than my years. I needed his spark to bring levity to life – to see things and appreciate them in a very different light.
So, we were young and just starting our life together. We began our family right away. First, we had our son who was the spitting image of his father. I used to say, ‘I did all the work and he got the credit’. But, that was o.k. with me. If my son grew to be anything like his father – he would become a great man. I do believe that Dearest is the best person I know.
Then, after a couple years I was ready for another child. I really WANTED another child and hoped for a girl. We were blessed with our daughter and boy, at first was she the spitting image of her father – she was his ‘Minnie Me’ – in a girl fashion. Our little young family was growing so wonderfully.
A Big Move
Dearest has always been good at what he set his mind to do and he drew attention. So, when a job offer came that would catapult his career in a good direction, I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that he would accept it and that a big change and a big move would come to our young, little family.
I was o.k. with the move. I left home at eighteen to go to college and had never gone back. As a child, I grew up away from my extended family as my father was in the military. I have always been comfortable with change and with times of solitude and separation. But Dearest, he has always been a home-body and grew up alongside all his extended family. A move such as this would be a much bigger change for him than for me.
But, at the distance it was – it turned out to be a big change and challenge for both of us since we weren’t able to go home to visit family that first Christmas away. We were not able to go home for Christmas.
A Real Winter
Not only were we far from our family’s homes, but we also experienced for the first time a real winter. Oh, the snow! The cold! The beauty of an all-white blanketed landscape that made even everyday items look fantastic. From that time on, I have always loved the snow. It spoke to my quiet spirit. There’s an exquisite beauty and silence to snow.
A Message to Our Loved Ones
So, here we were, a young couple with two small children far, far from home experiencing our first Christmas away. It was going to be a white Christmas too. We didn’t have much still at the time and our first tree was small and stood atop one of those large speakers that seemed to become a piece of furniture in many homes at the time. My decorations at the time were minimal. I would take care of that years, years down the line, but we were together, our children were happy and life was grand. But we weren’t going to be able to be home for Christmas. So…Dearest borrowed a video camera from a co-worker and we documented scenes from our children’s new life in this new place for our family.
My youngest daughter found our copy of this video and we played it. Oh, how young we were and how sweet our children were. We videoed bathtime, playtime, my son and our dog playing in the snow. We videoed him singing to the radio and our little daughter trying to take her first steps. We videoed Dearest reading one of our son’s favorite stories that he knew, word for word. Then we closed the video with a message of our love, how we missed our families and hoped to see them soon. We hoped that next Christmas we would be able to be home.
The details of our lives from moment to moment, day to day, year to year pass us by. Only so many things stand out and only so much of it we recall. We perhaps add a rosy hue to our memories in that we create fond memories of such times. Life wasn’t always easy and at sometimes it was actually hard. This move, however, was a very good move for us. Dearest did very well in his new position and experienced good promotions. We found a good church and became very active. I homeschooled our children and we spent a lot of time with other young families, at parks, at museums, at the library and so much more. It was a wonderful place to raise children. But, home always called. Dearest had in his heart to always return home and we did. That is another story in and of itself.
Being Home For Christmas
We know how it feels not to be able to be home for Christmas – to miss our families. I am thinking of so many now who are separated from their families at Christmas. I think of young children whose parents serve in the military and feel a sense of loneliness missing their parent. I think of mothers and fathers whose children grow and move away and perhaps experience what our parents experienced – separation from their children and grandchildren. I think of those whose loved ones have passed away and this may be their first Christmas without them. I know how they must feel and my heart goes to them wishing to say – this will pass and there will be a reunion. Moments and memories come to us all. Life is full of good, of bad, of easy and of difficult times. Understanding these moments and appreciating those times when we are home for Christmas. We can recall as I do with fondness those moments our first Christmas away and those feelings have softened and have a different sense now. Nostalgia.
Now, we are the parents of grown children and grandparents. There will be times we will be separated from our young loved ones. They will go out and make their way. They will make their mark on this world and create their own memories. I hope one day they too will look back with fondness of those sweet and bittersweet moments of life. And I look forward to each and every time we can hear them say, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’.