I know, it is August and kids are going back to school. Nobody wants to think about Christmas, which is still 4 months away. Yet, this song has been on my mind since Friday.
At one time I hated that song, which is entirely unfair to the song, I know. My dislike occurred in the winter of 1987. It was the first year I would not be with my family for the holidays. A year earlier I had moved from Illinois to Tucson, AZ with my husband and we couldn't go home. I was also pregnant with my first child. Every time I heard the song on the radio I turned the channel because I wanted to be home for Christmas and I couldn't be.
That one Christmas Eve and Christmas are still a vivid memory, even after all of this time. My husband had to work until eleven that evening, or maybe it was midnight, and I chose to go to Christmas Eve Midnight services alone(though they started earlier than midnight). As I was driving home it began to snow. Note, I earlier said I was in Tucson, Arizona and it did snow. It was my own Christmas miracle. I know it wasn't sent just for me, but it helped.
December 25 1987 and 1916 - White Christmas across Tucson
Up to three inches of snow blanketed the metro area in 1987. This was the first white Christmas in Tucson since 1916 when four inches fell.http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/twc/climate/20thcentury_top10wx.php
There was still snow on the ground that morning and my husband and I stood in the doorway of our apartment and watched the children play. For some, it was the first time they ever experienced snow. I wonder how many Christmas presents remained unwrapped under the tree so the kids could enjoy the strange phenomenon. By noon, there wasn't even a hint there had been snow, though I have pictures and memories.
Last year was the first year my eldest, the daughter I was pregnant with that first Christmas away from my family, wasn't home for Christmas. The difference was, she was only forty-five minutes away and I knew I could see her anytime and we did celebrate a few days later. This year she is 36 hours away.
On Saturday, she and her husband left to drive from Illinois to Oregon, where they will remain for two years. It is hard not having your children around at Christmas. Just as hard as not being able to be home for Christmas. Perhaps that is why the song was playing in my head. And, I am not alone.
Hundreds of parents send their children off into the world. It doesn't matter that by law they are adults, to a parent they are still their child. Some go off to school, some marry and move away, others join the service. It doesn't matter what the reason, it is never easy. At least I have the comfort of knowing my daughter is finishing school and with a man who loves her and will protect her. I can't imagine how those mothers feel whose children are in Iraq, Afghanistan or any other country they've been deployed too. Christmas must be so much harder for those families.
This is not meant to be a political statement, and I have the greatest respect for the armed forces and their families who wait at home and worry, but wouldn't it be nice if everyone could could all be home for Christmas?