Welcome to this week’s edition of the Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge sponsored by Long and Short Reviews. This week’s topic…favorite holiday and why.
A few years ago, prior to the sabbatical I took from the writing world, I wrote a post for my then active blog (another pen name, another story entirely!) on how disappointed I was that the world seemed to be in a constant state of hurry when it came to the holidays. It seems on December 26, the Christmas leftovers go on clearance and the same day the Valentine’s candy hits the shelves. Before Valentine’s Day even arrives, all the little red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates get shoved to one end of an obscure store shelf to be replaced by all the spring/Easter décor and basket stuffers. Half-way through Lent, we start seeing the red, white, and blue bunting come out in preparation for Memorial Day (don’t even get me started on how wrong people get that holiday). And before the end of April the first sightings of Independence Day goodies are reported. Last year, I saw fall décor everywhere before we’d even shot off the first bottle rocket. Halloween candy is seen before school supplies in August. Before Labor Day, Christmas begins to appear in the stores and largely Thanksgiving is forgotten altogether.
Years ago, before it was cool, I had already dubbed the season from late September through the end of the year, Hallowthanksmas.
Oh! New Year’s Day. Can’t forget that one is in there somewhere. Do people even watch the ball drop anymore? And what of all the holidays not recognized as heartily as the “traditional American holidays.” Because, you know, we’re all Anglo-white-Christians. Right? Wrong. We’re the melting pot and so many of the holidays and traditions that go along with that go largely unnoticed and unheralded. I have friends of all colors, creeds, religions, and beliefs. I have friends who celebrate Hanukkah and Passover. I have friends who are Pagan and celebrate the solstices. The list of holidays and their origins is endless. Anywho! All that being said, when I saw today’s topic, I knew exactly which holiday was my favorite and why.
All. Of. Them. No, I’m not kidding. No, it’s not a cop out. No, I’m not avoiding the topic, taking the easy way out of it, or playing by my own rules again. I really seriously cherish them all. And here’s why…
They are each unique. They each are a marker of time. They each represent a belief in something, hope and renewal is a recurring theme. And they all can be celebrated as we wish, and sometimes when we have to.
When we have to? Yes. At least in my house that’s how celebrations have gone at times. When we had to or had the chance.
I know I talk about my life as a military bride a lot here. I’m not beating a drum; it’s just such a part of who I am, even in our new status as “retirees.” You can take the family out of the Marine Corps but you can’t take the Corps out of the family. Life as an active duty family has its rewards, but its also rife with its own unique issues and challenges. Holidays are but one of the many challenges one faces when living the military lifestyle.
I cannot count the number of holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and other assorted significant days we have missed celebrating as a family. My husband was active duty through three war campaigns. He served in every single one with multiple deployments. I’d be lying if I said one gets used to it and it becomes normal. It doesn’t. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit people who continually say “you knew what you were signing on for when you married him/he enlisted” piss me off to no end. Yes, he surely did know what he was signing on for. What he signed on for was why he did it. He signed on for something greater than himself, bigger than any of us alone. He signed on to protect all of us from harm and preserve the freedoms each of us enjoy so much. And, yes, I surely did know what I signed on for when I married him. Love doesn’t see challenges though and run. Love stays and guts it out. Does knowing that make it easier to spend at least 75% of the holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and other assorted significant days apart? No. It doesn’t.
Please, don’t think I’m on a pity party here or looking for sympathy. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. I’m just attempting to share a piece of my life few have experienced and even fewer understand. And how does that relate to the holidays?
It explains why I love all of them. I coveted holidays and jumped for joy when we actually hit one we got to spend together. Those times were treasured. When we were apart, we made due. We sent extra care packages, said extra prayers, and had an extra long phone chat if it was afforded us. Then, when we were back together, we celebrated in high fashion. We celebrated the homecoming and every single special day we’d missed together all rolled into one.
We’ve had Christmas lights left on our house through Valentine’s and the tree still up in the corner for a February homecoming which was combined with the traditional Valentine’s cards, candy, and flowers. We’ve had fireworks in October, rolling a missed Fourth of July in with a harried Halloween on the cusp of another departure. We’ve had massive birthday parties for several people at once…those felt like Christmas! Special foods for special days? We know no bounds such as those. We’d eat like kings at times when we were together for no good reason at all other than we could. Turkey in August to squeeze in Thanksgiving before a September deployment? You betcha! We’ve done all that and more. And, we’ve learned that life is short, time is precious, and all those special days have way more meaning past the initial surface materialistic pomp. Hugs are great gifts. Kisses are priceless. Feeling someone’s heartbeat when you hold them for the first time in a year? That’s what it’s all about. That’s as real as it gets.
And that’s why I love them all and cherish each one in its uniqueness.
I really empathize with all the folks out there who’ve had to cancel plans due to the world crisis we’ve been in the grip of. They’ve put off vacations, holidays, birthdays, graduations, and celebrations. I lived it for years. I get it. I hold you all in my heart and feel your frustration, pain, and fear. I offer you this…it’s not the specific day, the particular way, or the amount that’s spent that’s the most important. It’s that you’re with those who matter the most that make it special. The when or how makes no difference in the end.