Christmas is 500 miles away
Christmas is 500 miles away.
Yes, it’s Christmas. Spending this particular holiday alone is torture. This year there is no tree, no lights, no joyous laughter or smell of cookies. This year my son Matt and my husband Tom are 500 miles away and not due to return until mid-January. There’s something very wrong about enduring such a special holiday alone. Yes, we have other children, but we (Tom,Matt and I) don’t seem to register on their radar this year. It doesn’t matter, it has always been Matt and Tom that bring the Christmas spirit each year and I am use to feeding off their wondrous energy come December. Except I don’t have them near me this year. This is my first Christmas away from Matt and I am acting as if I am in mourning. He has always given such life to this holiday – it’s not Christmas without him. I miss him more than I can bear.
Memories have flooded my mind all day long. I think of how Matt plays the “Christmas Story” all day long. I think about taking him shopping in the weeks and days before Christmas and I can almost feel his enthusiasm, his joy and his mission. I think of him singing, laughing, smiling and how his very presence makes the thrill and excitement of the holiday tangible. I think about how Matt even buys himself a gift each year, wraps it himself and places it beneath the tree. Then on Christmas morning he is surprised and excited to find his self-wrapped gift and opens it with amazement, as if Santa himself had placed it there just for him just hours before. I think of how much a simple Christmas card in the mail means to him, how he enjoys the cards just as much as the gifts. Small trinkets are just as important as anything expensive. It’s not the gift, you see, it’s the gesture and the sheer joy of brightly wrapped presents - after all, Christmas is a time for giving. For me, Matt makes Christmas seem magical and reinforces the true meaning of the day.
But this year the house is quiet, except of course, for the clicking of the keyboard as I type and the heavy breathing of my dogs. This year, Matt only received 1 Christmas card and it was from me. No one else remembered him (shame on his siblings – they should know better). He has no tree, no extravagant presents wrapped in joyous ribbons and bows. He did however buy himself a gift, wrapped it and laid it beneath a small string of colored lights – and that one gift makes Christmas - he is happy with this. Tom has tried to make the holiday festive as best he could with the limited resources we have. We both remember last year and how badly Matt’s heart ached for his daddy to come home – his tears broke my heart. Now here it is one year later and again his heart aches, this time to be home with me for Christmas. Fortunately, he was better prepared and thus seems to be handling it better. In addition, I have promised him a Christmas in January and I will be true to my word, but it doesn’t take the place of the actual Christmas day –nothing ever does. To add a bit of wonder, Tom has placed a secret gift below the lights while Matt sleeps. It isn’t much, hard times have prevented us from doing very much, but Matt won’t care about price tags. It will say it is from Santa and Matt will be amazed. Christmas will happen for Matt and it will be filled with wonder, laughter, and smiles. Unfortunately, Christmas for me will be tearful and oh, so lonely. All I can do is count down the days.
Next year will be different. Tom has secured a transfer back to Virginia and home. We will not have to endure the months apart, the stress of holidays alone and the financial burden of running two places of residence. In twenty days we will start anew. I will see Tom and Matt, and I can’t wait. Until then, I will listen to his laughter over the phone and picture his joy in my mind . . . and shed my tears.
Christmas may come only once a year, but in 20 days I will begin to have Christmas in my home . . . every day . . .all year.