Thanks to many years of deployments, many military families don't get many holidays together. I don't remember our family ever having two holidays seasons in a row together int he past 10 years since Deryn arrived. Now that all changes for our little family. Thanks to the path God has laid out for us. We will now always have our holidays together.
I will be honest, the holidays lost their excitement for me because Chaz has always been gone. I remember in 2002, when Chaz was in Korea. Many did not understand why I didn't care about the holidays. My family was so excited and me, well I would have rather just slept in and pretended like it was another day. Chaz had left in July and I gave birth to Deryn in September. I was all alone with our little girl and I hated it.
It was hard to spend that first holiday season without him. 2003 was even harder. Chaz's tour in Korea was extended because war had just broken out in Iraq. So thanks to OIF, Deryn and I had her first two holiday seasons without him back to back. At this point all of my childhood excitement towards the holidays was gone. But I learned the important lesson that holidays are all about being with those you love. If you can't be with them then the season just doesn't feel right. Like any good military wife, I just sucked it up and keep on moving and mailed off my care packages timely.
Since Deryn arrived in this world, we have taken family pictures every holiday season. We usually pull them out every year and look at how our little family has grown. I remember the first time Deryn asked, "Why isn't Daddy in all the pictures?" Of course this is when we have to remind her of every where Daddy has been and why. The cool thing about those pictures is that they tell the story of our family's journey one year at a time. We truly enjoy looking at them every year.
Everyday I marvel in the fact that our family went from a devastating phone call in January 2011 to where we are today. I realized today this is our second Thanksgiving in a row together. I realized there will be no more holiday pictures with Daddy missing from them. But then I realized many of our friends are deployed and that the cycle our family is now out of, they are still very much a part of.
When you are giving thanks today, please remember the families who can't be together today because of their service to our nation. Please remember families like mine who are healing through injuries together. And please remember those today who have an empty chair at their table because God called someone they love home too soon.