As the years go by we look back at the holidays each year and remember them for different reasons. When you’re little it’s normally tied to the year you got “that gift” that you later can’t believe your parents spent three hours searching (and eventually bribing the business savvy teenager working) Toys-R-Us for. You get older and the meaning of the holidays takes true form and you remember the people you spent it with. The first holiday spent with a significant others family. The first Christmas at your new house. You get the point.
This year was supposed to be the first year we spent Christmas with Jims family in Michigan, and our first holiday season as an engaged couple. Then, last Saturday Jim got a phone call from work. He was needed to work the ice storms in upstate New York and had to leave. NOW. Twenty minutes later he was on the road with a bag packed for a week and our holiday plans were ruined.
Thankfully my family lives an hour away so I had fallback plans. Even knowing I truly wouldn’t be alone for the holidays I was still bummed that our week together was taken away. With his new job as a lineman, my work and school schedules and, you know, life; we haven’t been able to spend much time together lately. I was in the midst of a self-pity party when a Facebook post forced everything into perspective for me.
Monday morning a high-school classmate of mine who has been serving as a Marine in Afghanistan (on his third tour) was KIA. He leaves behind a beautiful wife he has been with since high school, a loving family and more friends than anyone could count. My small hometown has been rocked and devastated by his passing and the loss of a true hero in this world.
Immediately I felt so petty and terrible for the pity-party I had been having for myself. No, Jim wouldn’t be home for Christmas. But he will be home. Which is something I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for.
Hold your loved ones a little closer this holiday. If there’s someone you didn’t get to see, just give them a call to say you’re thinking of them. Send a card. And above all, be grateful.
Merry (belated) Christmas Everyone!