The Holiday season this year bore a strong resemblance to our First Christmas as a couple.
Twenty-three years ago when my husband and I got married he was in the Air Force. He had been serving in Japan for a year, and he came home two weeks before our wedding. We were married in Salt Lake City in October, and then traveled to California for the trip back to Japan together.
After a few days spending time together and seeing the sights around San Francisco, it was time to pack up and go to the base for the flight back to Japan. Only there was a problem with the paperwork, and I couldn’t go. And he had to.
Some quick arrangements were made for me to stay nearby with his brother’s family while he went home to get the papers done properly from there.
Thus began a pretty miserable month and half away from my new groom. His family was very accommodating and nice to me. I tried to be helpful but I’m afraid I was brooding and quiet most the time. I cried myself to sleep every night in my nephew’s little bedroom. When Thanksgiving came I was homesick for my family and caught a ride back up to Utah for the week. The return trip was snowy and cold and I got carsick. I missed my sweetie.
December seemed to stretch out forever. I helped my new nephews with Christmas decorations. As the days slipped by, soon I had the word that I was going to Japan.
One long plane ride later, I found myself in a foreign country with Jon, exhausted and very happy.
It was only a few days before Christmas. He brought me in to the house and showed me the tree he had decorated. There were candles and the table was set awaiting our first meal in our new home. Jon set our table and when I got there he made frozen dinners and set out the Martinelli’s sparkling cider.
Those first few days were a blur. I had an extreme case of jetlag and could not get going, and Jon was anxious to show me people and places.
We drove around, visited some friends, and went shopping. He wanted to take me to church to meet people but I couldn’t wake up and get going. By the time we drove past the building it was over and people were leaving. We had a laugh and drove back home.
Our first Christmas was nice. Quiet, compared to the way I grew up- with a house full of hyper little brothers and sisters, and a larger gathering of relatives for a Christmas Eve dinner. But we were making our own traditions now and starting our own family.
This year, after seventeen years out of the service my husband joined the Army Reserve. We had a quiet little anniversary celebration, and for a month and a half he’s been at Ft. Sill Oklahoma for training. This was my first Thanksgiving without him since we were separated as newlyweds so long ago. It was miserable for different reasons. My two college daughters and a boyfriend were traveling home through the snowy weather. I was fearful for their safety and problems did arise that I needed my husbands help for. I enjoyed Thanksgiving with them and our other family that visited, only to be fearful for their trip back home. With computer browser tabs filled with maps, satellite views, and traffic cams, I postponed their return trip for two days, until I thought it was clear, and once they left I could not breathe easy until everyone was safe and sound where they belonged.
For Christmas my girls arrived home from college on plane flights, and I began counting the days until my girls and my husband would be back home with me. I was amazed at how many Christmas songs included separated loved ones longing to be together. My mind kept going back to that first Christmas of ours and how happy we were to just be together.