Tuesday, December 4, 2007

broken? Not really

Reading Cami's blog thinking about my time in the Navy, and about Christmas has all caught up with me, and made me remember things that were well, not forgotten, but tucked into the recesses of my brain. This is one of them.

I was 18 when I went into the Navy, it was the summer after highschool. By November, I was done with whatever training they were going to give me, and I headed out to see what life in "the fleet" was like. My first duty station was Yokosuka, Japan. I went on December 7th, many of my family and friends liked to tease me that I was the ultimate revenge for Pearl Harbor. (hee hee).

Anyhow. I made friends quickly, that far away from home. Some really good ones, some really bad ones. If I remember correctly, I spent my first Christmas from home with a friend named Jewel, and some of her other friends, and we rode a train to an Army base for some event they were having there. It sucked. We had more fun on the train.
The next Christmas, I had a boyfriend (who later became my husband). I took some paid leave days and we spent Christmas, just the two of us, staying in a nice hotel in Yokosuka, and being with each other un-interrupted, which was something we had not been able to do, EVER. We'd been dating for 10 months. I think I took four or five days, and we just relaxed, and wandered, and talked, and it was really like there was no one else in the world but us. (Hey, we were young, and in looooooove- or so we thought). It was a pretty great Christmas. No exchange of gifts, or tree's or cookies (we did have some of his Mom's really good date nut cake, though).
Fast forward to the next year. I came home on December first, and hadn't been home for two years. I had a month of leave to burn up, and was going to be having Christmas with all the family.
Never have I really felt so off kilter. There I was, in the midst of all the Christmas cheer, the tree's the food the presents the decorations the music the family the talk the EVERYTHING.
And, I hated it. Don't get me wrong. I loved seeing the family and friends and all that, but, I'd forgotten how to act, I had forgotten how to do this big thing called Christmas, I'd forgotten the stress of it. I'd forgotten all the commercialism of it. I MISSED the simple Christmas' I'd had in Japan, where it was a celebration just to BE with people, have a nice dinner, and spend quality time with them.
So, there I sat, that first year. Twenty, and lost, in my own family. I tried really hard to pretend that I wasn't. I know I fooled some, but probably not others, the wiser ones who'd been there, the ones who REALLY knew me. (I didn't fool my Dad for one spare minute.). I felt broken, and kind of defective, that I'd forgotten some elemental skill of family.
But I tried.
Many Christmas' have passed since them. I've spent a few more away from the family. I work a lot of them. One memorable Christmas, my grandfather died. It might sound odd, but that one? Was just a little more special, actually.
I love Christmas, the cookies, the family, the gifts, the decorations, the tree. But, secretly, there is still that part of me that wishes we could NOT do all that, and just be with each other. Having a good meal, a good laugh, and enjoying each other's quiet company. It's really nice.


CamiKaos said...

getting back into the swing of BIG holidays is hard.

great post

sybil law said...

And THAT is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts or pressure or shopping or bills - just food and family and friends.

DaddyKaos said...

The year dad died is just a blur, unplaned travel on Christmas Eve, back home on New Years day. Not sure about any of it.

mielikki said...

We didn't really have a Christmas the year grandpa died, but, we were all together, and the focus was on family, and though we were sad and grieving, we were all doing that, together. And that is what made it kind of special.

Bubblewench said...

Funny, just last night I was thinking along these very lines. Where did we lose the idea of family at christmas? Why did the 'media' or 'they' shift the entire focus from what it was created for to making money?

There will always be a little part of me that wishes we didn't have to jump through all these holiday hoops too.