Missing Family for Christmas

Christmas movies are like the number one tradition in my family. It’s right next to lights, cookies, and Christmas dinner. My family has a ton of traditions ranging from icing sugar cookies, watching every Christmas movie we can get our hands on (except Diehard which is NOT a Christmas movie), and decorating our tree.

Our Christmas tree never has a uniform design to it. Random ornaments everywhere, heavier ones on the sturdier branches near the bottom, best ornaments near the top of the tree. These things feel like home. It’s a comfort during this crazy year to know that some things haven’t changed. My brother went away to the Navy in May so we’re one person down. It feels strange to not have him here. While there are certain traditions that I can hold onto during this month, someone missing makes the season a little dimmer.

My therapist and I have been talking about my childhood, mostly grade school years for the last few weeks. As I try to remember details about it, most of my memories are with my brother. My oldest brother was in high school and then he was in community college so he wasn’t around to play often. But the other brother was always there. We’d play games and pretend we were pirates with all my stuffed animals as crewmates or we’d play with Legos or play video games together. Despite our fights and arguments, I remember the good times more.

When he went away to the Navy there was an atmosphere of emptiness around my family. It feels weird to talk about it, even now. And I’m not sure if that’s just how I’m processing it or if it’s because I feel a sense of guilt. Like my sadness that he can’t come home for the holidays is inadequate compared to my parents. Of course my feelings matter in this, but he’s just my brother. It’s not like your child or your parent getting deployed. It’s not often a situation that’s talked about; a sibling going away to the military or moving away. There’s no websites dedicated to it or support groups for it. Thank god for therapy in times like these.

These are things we must take time to recover from. This season feels kind of lonely without him. He’s not here to terribly wrap gifts with me (ribbon curls are impossible). He won’t be here to stay up late on Christmas Eve and watch stupid Youtube videos or open stockings at 5am. But he is just a phone call away and we both have a Nintendo Switch so we both can play games together.

Maybe your child hasn’t come home in years or a family member is deployed or covid stopped the family from coming together. If you’re missing someone dear to you this holiday season, just know that there are other people who feel the same way. You’re not by yourself in your loneliness and your grief and it’s perfectly okay to reach out for comfort. There will soon be a day we can all be together again and hope is a powerful thing.

Have a merry Christmas.

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