It's one of the things we use to keep everything from overwhelming us.
It never fails, though, most times when others try to be positive at us, to set our teeth on edge.
We don't want pity, we don't want reminders that we're blessed right now, we don't always have a way to put it all into words what we need from others.
We do know, however, that we don't want to be reminded about our consolation prize.
“He’ll be home for the holidays! That’s so great for you guys!”
“Well, at least he’s home for Christmas. That’s something to be grateful for!”
“It’ll be so nice for you all to be together at this time.”
Also they are statements that I’m choking on this year.
They are all sentiments that emphasize that yet again, our holiday is our consolation prize.
In just weeks, he will leave for his third deployment in three years. For his fifth deployment in 7 years. The last few have been “shorter” if you look at the deployment window alone, but all told, not counting this upcoming deployment he’s been gone 24 of the last 30 months, just the same.
And yes we are, in some respects, incredibly lucky that out of the last 3 years even given such a brutal schedule, he has been home for the holidays with us for all 3 of them.
But I am growing weary of the implication that holidays are the only days that matter. I am weary that it is expected that on the balance sheet of costs to families that both in the eyes of those writing the schedules, and in the eyes of those muttering the platitudes that “home for the holidays” is supposed to somehow make up for so much just, plain, gone.
Yes he will be here…
to gather around the tree.
To eat the dinner.
To unwrap the presents.
To put together the toys.
I’m so glad for that.
But it doesn’t change the fact that again he will still be gone
He will still...
Miss the birthdays
Not be here to help with homework.
To dry the tears.
To make the dad jokes.
To drive to the doctor’s appointment and hold the hand of his scared kiddo or wife.
We are weary of the missing. I have tried to describe that tired many times before. The weariness in the bones. The weariness that feels like it threatens to make my heart fail and my breath escape me.
We are tired and raw in a way that is past description.
And in that tired and raw, though we know the blessing of a special day together, it is hard to swallow the sentiment that a consolation prize makes the loss of our time together, the struggles of our family, somehow better.
A holiday together simply doesn’t cancel out the months we’ve spent missing one another.
Besides that, I miss the days of “The Holidays” simply being “The Holidays.” Not this time of bittersweet ache. Not this time of counting down to magic at the same time that we are counting down to him leaving us again. Not this time of everything having to mean more… Every moment needing to be pregnant with goodness and meaning and memories because of the time apart surrounding it.
But yes, just the same we try to be grateful.
We try to remember to be glad
That he’s home for now… Even if it’s only for the holidays.