Derek left again for Iraq after 15 days of leave. It was so hard to see him go yet again, and I'm trying to think how many times I've waved to planes that carried him away. Still, he loves what he does. He's a soldier and he's good at it--a first sergeant, to those who know what that means, and being considered for Sergeant Major. He told me he plans to stay in the military, even after his 20 years are up. So I accept his choice and the fact that he will be deployed again at some point after this one is past.
We visited with Larry's twin sister at her father-in-law's home after Derek left. Now there is a survivor--this old man built the home he lived in, survived the depression and wars and layoffs and his wife's death. At 82, he lives alone and his home is neat as a pin.
Then home again to finish putting up Christmas decorations. Larry gathered in the greens so I could make the decorations--bunches of evergreens tied with red ribbon to hang by the door and on the porch, arrangements of greens (lavender, sage, cutting of evergreens) and bare branches for the house.
Then we got down the totes of decorations. Lots of stuff to sort and a lot of it won't be used this year. The tree is trimmed with the old vintage balls from my parents' tree, and it's lovely. The house begins to look like Christmas, and we are struggling to be merry and bright because Derek's children will be here at different times over the holidays (and one lives with us).
Tonight we're listening to the Chieftain's music and Larry is putting together the little village. We're worrying over our youngest son Tommy, in the Air Force in Germany who cannot come home for Christmas and will be spending his first one away from family, and over Derek who is traveling back to the war zone through heavy rain. We're still worried about Jaime who is recovering but still shaken by her close call with steroid overdose (did you know that's what they prescribe for poison ivy these days?).
I am missing my parents all the time, because Christmas was the season that they enjoyed most, and because so many of their traditions have passed into my life and remind me of them each time I do anything to prepare for the holidays.
We're trying to get in the spirit of the season, to make home the same happy Christmas place it's been in past years; it's not easy. But we're trying and I suppose that's all anyone can do.
Tomorrow Larry will gather mistletoe and when I get home from work I'll make the kissing ball. I'll be thinking of my sons, wishing they were home, but still be proud of them for their service and their choices.
We're one more family trying to find our way through difficult times, while we appreciate that we have a past that grounds us, a present that keeps us close and a future that surely will bring better things for us all.