Editors Note: The author of this piece did not wish to disclose her name. She adores her family and can’t stand the thought of hurting their feelings. In the interest of a peaceful holiday season…we agreed to keep this anonymous. After all, the Army may allow them to sit at the family table next year…and we don’t want this piece to add to the craziness. Happy holidays!!
About a month ago my husband came home and informed me that he was not going to be able to take leave for the holidays. Something about duty and the needs of the Army, blah, blah, blah. I was totally bummed. We have not been at this post very long and have not yet made a great group of friends that we call family. And of course I love my husband and kids, but a holiday meal is just not the same with a large group of folks sitting around the dinner table…it wouldn’t be the same without extended family. It would just be us this year, and I will admit to being pretty upset.
Actually, since this piece is anonymous…I was pissed. Somewhere in the back of my brain I was convinced that my husband really was making it all up. If it was really important to him, he could make it work and we could travel. Logically I knew that he had absolutely no control over this…but logic is not something I am particularly great with when it comes to allowing the military to dictate my life. Sometimes I get really frustrated and downright angry. I act like a spoiled brat for a few moments. There, I said it.
Eventually a cooler head always prevails and I start figuring out how to make the best of whatever the Army has thrown at us this time. So I started to plan the menu and talk to the kids about some things they would like to do here locally. I was starting to feel a little bit better.
Then, I got a message from a friend who was traveling for the holidays with multiple children and a pet. I remembered that road trips always seem like a good idea, until you have been in the car for about 15 minutes. Someone is hungry, someone is bored, someone can’t get comfortable…and the kids have their own complaints too. Visits to gas station bathrooms taken right out of a Law and Order episode, squished tuna sandwiches, and the way the car smells after a family of four and one dog have been shoved inside for three straight days.
I was starting to appreciate this whole “needs of the Army” thing.
The more I thought about it…staying home for the holidays was sounding better by the minute. Because I remembered, very fondly, the last family get together we attended. After a very long road trip we were so excited to see our entire family. Our ENTIRE family. That family consisted of four families, about a dozen kids (or maybe it just seemed that way), and half a dozen animals. All under one roof. With two bathrooms.
I remember how relaxing it was to sleep in the living room on an air mattress. I remember how many glasses of wine it took me to get through the sixth round of Jenga that the bigger kids all decided to play at 9 pm because they were so wound up from finally being out of school for a few days. I remember taking cold showers and doing the potty dance in the hallway while waiting for six kids to use the bathroom before me. I remember how loud grandparents who are losing their hearing can be, and how toddlers with perfectly good hearing can drown those old folks out. I remembered how I could barely button my pants by the time we left because every person in attendance brought their famous dessert that I just couldn’t pass up.
All of this reminiscing made me smile.
This year, we will be staying home. We will be sleeping in our own beds, using our own bathrooms, eating our own famous dishes…and doing it with a whole lot less noise and a little less craziness. And right now, I think I am thankful for that.
Don’t get me wrong. I will miss our extended family. We will probably be able to Skype and it will bring a tear to my eye to know that we are not there with them. Time with loved ones is a treasured gift…no matter how loud and crazy they can be.
But there is something to be said about staying right where you are and enjoying the quiet craziness of your own home.
Thank you, Army. You are forgiven… this time.