Home For Christmas… For A Change

It’s Christmas Day! And there’s so many wonderful things happening! There’s a tree in the living room with tons of presents underneath it. Which are soon to be passed out and opened up by their respective recipients. There’s going to be smiles and laughter and gratefulness from the joys that come with this special day. Maybe a Christmas movie will be watched later on, preferably Die Hard!I mean c’mon… it’s the best Christmas movie ever!

That’s what’s happening with my family and I on this Christmas. Other people out there might be doing something similar, others might be doing something entirely different. And some may not be celebrating Christmas at all, but rather a different holiday of the season. Regardless, it always makes for a great time to celebrate with your loved ones. That is of course… if you’re around for it. Which hasn’t always been the case for me.

I just turned 32 this month, and I can recall 4 Christmases where I wasn’t with my family. Which can be considered a drawback of living the life of an adventurer. I remember a Christmas that I missed when I was in the Marine Corps. I was a few years into my service at the time, so I was about 21 years old. At this point I was a Non-Commisioned Officer and in a leadership position. And someone within my section had to stand duty at the unit during Christmas.

I had the fortune of being able to take leave ever Christmas during my service up until then. It was great that I was able to do so, and I wanted the Marines in my charge to be able to have that same opportunity. So I volunteered myself to stand duty so that they wouldn’t have to. They were good Marines, and unfortunately there were a few times when I had fallen short as their leader. So I decided that I was going to step up to bat for them this time and make sure that they had the opportunity to enjoy Christmas.

This was the first Christmas that I had spent away from home, and it was the only one that I was completely alone for. All of my friends in the Marine Corps were away and I was a single guy. Everything was closed on base as well as in Jacksonville, where I was stationed. I did venture out, but the place was like a ghost town. So I ended up just making a meal and watching Family Guy. Definitely not the most exciting Christmas, but I made the best of it.

Out of the 3 other times, 2 Christmases were spent in The Gambia when I was a Peace Corps volunteer. So I had fellow volunteers that I celebrated with. And the most recent time, which was just 2 years ago, I was in Dresden, Germany. There I spent Christmas with a dear friend of mine and his family. So I got to celebrate with a different tradition than my own. Which certainly made for a good travel and cultural experience!

Beach Christmas! – The Gambia, 2012

Missing Christmas however, did get easier the more times that I did it. It got to a point where I really wasn’t all that bothered if I ended up being away for it. I think this was a mix of getting older, breaking away from traditions, and really just practice that lead to me to feel this way. And even if I were to have been away for Christmas this year, I honestly don’t think that I’d be all that upset.

Christmas Market! – Dresden, Germany, 2015

That does of course depend on whether or not I’m able to celebrate with others. That one Christmas that I was away for during my Marine Corps service was the most difficult because I was all alone for it. The other 3 were just downright fun! And that was because the people that I was with made it worthwhile. And that’s what I like best about the holidays. Being able to have an occasion to connect with other people in a festive way. Whether that happens at home or abroad, it’s all good to me!

But for this year I’m in my hometown with my family! It’s been great to catch up with them, as well as with members of my extended family. On Christmas Eve some of us had a feast and played some cards, which is a tradition in our family. Definitely a nice thing to be around for! Though it’s hard to say where I’ll be for Christmas next year. Very soon I’ll be uprooting myself yet again and moving someplace new. Regardless of where I am for the holidays, if I have some cool people to celebrate with, I’ll be just fine!

Merry Christmas everyone!!