Living in the DC area during the holidays is already paying off big dividends with opportunities to celebrate the Christmas season. I knew opportunities must surely abound for filling my schedule with shows, tours, parades, and shopping. But, I wasn’t sure exactly which events, so I decided to “google” December events in DC 2012, and boy, did I get results. Some of the happenings that made my list for the month are Mt. Vernon’s Candlelight tour, the Historic Homes Tour in Old Town, Alexandria, the Annapolis Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, and the free USAF Band Concert at Constitution Hall this weekend. The tour of Historic Houses of Worship sounds very appropriate for the season, and I have never been to United States Botanic Gardens, they have a train exhibit that sounds cool. Les Miserables’ touring company will be here, and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” will be playing at Ford’s Theatre. How to fit it all in will be the question, and I really thought the Jolly Express Holiday Lights Tour, on “a tug-boat style vessel” decked out with reindeer antlers, and red nose would be cool for Christmas Eve, but I’m still trying to convince my family of that one. While I was busy lining up every white space on my calendar, it dawned on me, that this Christmas I was blessed enough to have my active duty husband home for the holidays. While he may not be here the entire month, I can rest easy knowing this year, he won’t be a half a world away. But, there are those people that will be missing and longing for their loved ones this season, and they need our attention.
A song came on the radio, the other day, you know the one that has a recording of a military man, wishing his family well for the holidays, just before a Christmas song plays. It still brings a lonely feeling deep within my soul when I hear it, because I know what it is like to sit in a church pew on Christmas Eve, with tears streaming silently down my face, missing my deployed husband desperately. With a war that continues to drag on, we don’t like to admit that even military families sometimes forget, once their family member is back home, to remember there other military families that could really use a lift in spirits. It also bears mentioning that there are civilian families that are deeply in need of a friendly face, and Christmas cheer. These families could use an invite to the holiday table, a phone call, or a fruitcake delivery (well maybe an applesauce cake). Do you know a widow or widower, or someone who has lost a child this year or in year’s past? I keep thinking about all the single parents with young children who are trying to juggle the demands of their job, help with homework, read a bedtime story and fall exhausted into bed each night. They must surely be sitting in our heavy DC traffic worrying about how to meet all the ordinary demands of life, and still have the funds and time to prepare for Christmas. Our deployed men, and women really appreciate a handwritten card or letter; in this day and age of technology, it brings a certain closeness to the ole U.S. of A., to actually get a stamped letter or package from the folks back home. My husband said that it was the simple messages of joy and good cheer, handwritten on cards, and sent to him by school-age children that meant the most to him, on the Christmas Eve, he was deployed in Afghanistan. He may not admit it publicly, but I believe it may have even brought a few tears to his eyes. When I received a random card from a church that did not even know me, letting me know they were thinking of me and my family, it let me know I was not alone, and the community at large cares. While my faith helps me get through those tough Christmases, I also know that when someone took action, to show me they cared, it helped that ache subside. The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35. While I know the true joy of Christmas is giving, I also know that to be on the receiving end during those lonely moments, is truly a Christmas blessing. May you be a blessing to those in your life, and may you be blessing to those that are waiting to be a part of your life. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!