Updated: Jan 13, 2019
While Advent is in full swing I catch myself having moments of how next year's Christmas season might look different for our family. A few weeks back my oldest son enlisted in the D.E.P (delayed entry program) for the United States Navy and plans on shipping out next August.
When my daughter left for college two years ago, things felt differently then they do today with my son's new enlistment. Having her not around in the everyday busyness of life was an adjustment indeed, but she, and I, always knew that coming home whenever needed would be attainable. We have been blessed that our children want to come home and it has been a place that they find comfort and solace. I know that isn't true for every family and child.
There is something about the prospect of coming home that I love. Maybe it's the warm feelings of security and affection it brings or maybe it's the excitement of returning to a place where we found peace laying down our heads at night and the fond memories built there that continue to remain in our hearts .
It appears that every other commercial airing right now during this holiday time seems to exemplify those same feelings. Watching a child or parent wait with anticipation of a loved one coming home this glorious time of year, can't help but tug at the heartstrings of both the ones returning and the ones waiting. There is nothing like coming home to a place you love and are loved.
The uncertainty to where my son might be next Christmas has evoked thoughts of how I will continue to keep those feelings of joy and eagerness viable, even if we may not all be together. And even though I have flashes of a commercial Christmas homecoming where we are all celebrating his perfectly timed arrival, I know there is no guarantee of that . What I have come to realize though is that when he does come home and we are all together, it will always be cause for a celebration. The holidays may connect us all at the traditional times but, if they don't, they won't be any less special. Christmas together in July will be just as significant as if it were in December. Keeping my heart and mind open to embrace new times with old traditions helps keep my perspective on what really counts.
Navigating these uncharted waters together, I will encourage all of us to cling to these truths rather than put our hope and energy in uncertainty.
Truth 1...the pride we will feel watching him stand alone and succeed independently will override any angst our hearts may feel.
Truth 2...his and our coping skills will be sharpened as we experience moments when things do not work out the way and in the timing we want them to.
Truth 3...our faith will be strengthened together and separate. And amid adversity, we will still see the gains from God's grace.
I am constantly reminding myself that God's timing is always the perfect timing. So instead of hanging on to this Christmas with apprehension about how future celebrations might look, instead I've decided to keep the traditions the same until the next change comes along. Accepting each stage of life for the gift it is, can sometimes be hard. I imagine someday, that I will look back at this time and think the 5 years he was gone went by faster than I thought. So instead of looking ahead of what might be, I'm making a choice to look and see what is happening now.
Today, we are all together and this Christmas will be celebrated on Christmas. Next year is a new time and will bring new adventures, wonder and challenges. I am sure there will be moments when I'm feeling those Navy blues, but no time that passes or distance away will deter my gratitude for this family I've been given, a celebrated return home and a full heart enveloped in every season of life.