Tag: Christmas

A New Year Begins

Life got in the way of blogging around the holidays.  I wanted to share with my readers about my adjustment in the work force again and trying to get ready for the holidays.  I wanted to write about how happy I have been at my new job, learning family law, working with a great attorney and fabulous co-workers.  Yes, I am writing this from the lens of “new to the job”, but it feels like a very good fit.  Time will tell, but understand that recent events in my life, make me appreciate the “here and now”, because as my father is fond of saying, “tomorrow is not guaranteed”.   With that in mind, I appreciate the opportunity for as long as I have it.

December came with a get -together with old friends, a couple of Christmas parties and a trip to Jacksonville to spend Christmas with my parents and my youngest daughter and her godson.  Even though, I was not going to be home for the holidays, I still wanted to dress the house up in holiday decorations  put the tree and lights up.  Getting my husband motivated enough to do this, is always a process, since he does not “do” holidays, but our agreement, is he just has to get out the totes, I do the rest.  The only thing is I forgot how much work it was to decorate the house, especially, now that I am back working.  It took two weeks, but I got the house finished, enjoyed it for two weeks and then was gone to Florida.

The payoff, after we survived the parking lot nightmare that was our trip on I-95 from home to Jacksonville, was seeing  how much improved my mom is doing, and how happy my dad is, now that she is doing better.  My parents weren’t even home when we got there in Jacksonville, which further added to my husband’s irritation after spending almost two extra hours on the total trip because of the holiday traffic.  So the payoff was not immediate, only getting there and being able to get out of the car after 10 hours on the road.  The payoff came the next day.  That  first night, we visited with Megan and tried to get the outside lights to work.  My dad had left detailed instructions, but we failed to find the reset switch to get the lights on after they had been kicked off.  Now, a month later, it has become one of the things we all reminisce about when we talk about this last Christmas… how Megan and I could not figure out how to get the back yard holiday lights on and how we didn’t call my dad, because neither one of us wanted to admit we couldn’t figure it out.  We just broke out a bottle of wine and toasted being together for the holidays, for the first time in years.

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The bonus, was Megan’s godson, Isaia.  I was trying to remember when we last had a child in the house for the holidays.   Too many years .  The price of being a long distance Grandmother.  Which may explain why we all were touched by his anticipation.  He would hang out with Chester, while he played on-line poker and watched River Monsters.  He got up from a nap on Christmas Eve and asked my mom if she wanted to dance, when he heard music playing on her CD player.  He invited my Dad to watch cartoons with him, moving over on the chaise lounge to give him space.  He asked to help set the table for meals.  Later that night, He and Megan made cookies.  He helped decorate the baked cookies, then tested one to make sure they were “good”.  Then helped Megan put out the plate of cookies and milk for Santa.  He also helped write the note to Santa so he wouldn’t miss the treat.  He also, had to make sure the fireplace was big enough for Santa to get through.  All our family rituals of the holiday coming full circle with Megan’s godson.   The next morning,  Isaia woke up to presents Santa left under the tree.  It was a treat for us, not just to see his excitement, but for me,photo (10)it reinforced, what I have always felt, that Christmas is for the kids.  We all watched as he opened presents, getting excited over everything, bit and small.  It made our holiday memorable, sharing it with this little guy.

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With the holiday  trip a success (not counting the beginning) and the holidays a wrap, the end of year arrived with an invitation to an end of year party with family and one with friends.  I can’t remember us being this social, but a combination of the new judo dojo Chester volunteers at, the golf tournament and my work in local politics, all raised our profile to the point, we now have a semblance of  a social life.  Not a bad thing, but something that required some management, since by the end of this particular year, Chester was feeling the effects of all the exposure.  I have started a new blog “My PTSD Vet” to have a continuing conversation about Chester’s struggles (past and current), my observations, and his insights as he works to find a balance to stay engaged in everyday life, without compromising the gains he has made.   He has worked harder than he gives himself credit for.  For us to go to two parties in one night, was significant.  We didn’t stay long at either party, but at the end of the second gathering, our hosts built a huge bonfire.

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Of particular significance to me, the bonfire represented an end of the year as we knew it, and the beginning of the new year.  The riff between the past and the future was permanent in a couple of relationships we both had.  We had lost a dear friend in the first half of the year that we have still not recovered from.  I drove my parents to Texas, and reunited with family I had not seen in years, renewing the ties that bind.  I made memories with my kids and grand kids that I cherish more than I will could ever say.  I worked behind the scenes on a local election and was amazed at the tenacity of pure will.   My status as unemployed ended, and was humbled by that process.  The Nation reelected the President, after a particular contentious election, reinforcing my belief in our better angels.  I know without a doubt, that I love my husband more today, because of this journey we have taken on together, this journey called Life.

 

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Semper Fi, Babe

My male cat jumps on the side of the bed to wake me. If hitting the side of the bed does not do the trick, he jumps on the bed and walks over me, meowing, just in case, I didn’t feel him, I could now hear him. I throw back the warmth of my comforter and get up to either feed him or put him out, still half asleep, I am not sure which it is. I stop short at the end of the hall because there is my husband, playing his new video game…he has not been to bed and it is now five in the morning.

I have not figured out why Christmas is a tough time for veterans. I get a little insight each year since we have been married, that I go thorough the holidays and watch my husband’s routine and sleep patterns alter. He told me early on he didn’t “do” Christmas and we made a compromise, because I do “do” Christmas, it is not only a religious celebration for me, it is a defining time with family for me.

Something a young veteran said to a group of us at lunch this last week. He said society does not make a place for “warriors” to just “be” when they return from war. Society wants returning warriors to assimilate into every day life and in essence, fade away. We don’t ask any other group in our society to give up their identity and fade away, why would we do that to those that protect our freedoms, fight
for their lives in lands 95% of us have never seen? This comment did more for me in understanding my father and my husband, than anything I
had read in PTSD articles. Why would our veterans, who are conditioned to hunt the enemy and kill, be touchy-feely about the holidays? I
have watched my husband say nothing when he brings my totes of decorations from our shed, but the look on his face speaks volumes. I
stopped being offended because he expresses his appreciation for how
the house looks once the decorations are up, but his initial response
is irritation. How could I expect it to be otherwise? His memories
of Christmas during wartime are ones of duress and incredulity. We ask our teenaged and young men to kill in the name of God and Country and then we ask the to sit quietly in church and sing “O Come All Ye Faithful”.

As a wife of the PTSD veteran, I learned early on in my marriage, it does not matter how many years have passed since my husband was in conflict, it is as fresh and clear to him today as it was when he was nineteen. The process of PTSD is that thee recollections, emotions and memories are brought to the surface every year he survived his conflict. My husband has refined his coping tools to deal with these feelings and emotions that come every year. This makes a difference for him in how he processed his emotions twenty years ago, and how he processes them today. He is a warrior, he will always be a warrior, and he has not ever faded or assimilated into society’s preceived corner for him and others like him. It is as it should be. Semper Fideles…always faithful. Makes sense to me. Semper Fi, Babe.

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The DC4 – Part I

     It was the end of 2009, almost the end of President Obama’s first year when I suggested to three of my co-workers that we should do a weekend in Washington, D.C. after our firm’s Christmas Party in Chesapeake.  I looked into a hotel near the Capital and the price of a trolley tour and gave my co-workers the bottom line for each of them.  Everyone was in.  None of us had been to Washington, D.C.  I,  for one, had lived in North Carolina for ten years and had been as far as the Trader Joes in Arlington, but never went the five minutes up the road to put eyes on the Capital.  

November 2007 - North Carolina Central University

     It was significant for all of us, each in our own way.  We had all been supporters of Obama.  Shelia and I started in 2007 by joining a MeetUp group, Triangle for Obama, and saw him during the campaign season at North Carolina Central University.   Halima, who worked with us, was a registered Republican, at the time of the campaign.  I don’t remember when she changed parties, but we take credit for her becoming a Democrat, although, I think it was her crush on Joe Biden that did it.  She and Alex, her son, actually went and saw the Vice President during the campaign at Meredith College.   Dana worked in our corporate office.  She and I had struck up a conversation one day and began sharing news reports, articles and opinions on a regular basis.  When Obama won the election, I invited her to stay at Evansridge for the Inaugural.  It was during this time that we found we had not only politics in common, but a love of book and sports.  

     We left our Christmas Party to drop off Dana’s car back at the firm’s parking lot before heading to D.C.  We got turned around  once, but once we got on the right freeway, I will never forget entering the Capitol at night.  At night and before Christmas.  The whole town was lit up for the holidays, but it seemed to be lit up just for us.

The Capital at Christmas

     I had booked rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown, D.C.  It was perfectly placed, near the museums and the Capital.  For me, the best part was that the hotel was connected to a Starbucks.  We paid for a parking pass and that turned about to be good move, so we could secure Halima’s vehicle and walk if we wanted.  

The First Night at the Hotel Lobby

Our Trolley Guide

      I had recommended we take the Trolley Tour only because my parents had taken me on one in St. Augustine and I enjoyed it tremendously.  Since we had only one full day to tour the city, I thought it better to take the trolley, find out which monuments or museums we wanted to see.  What we didn’t plan for, was how cold it was going to be. It was after all, the second weekend in December.  First order of business was breakfast, and I wanted to go to this historic restaurant, but once we found it, it didn’t open until almost noon, so we went back to the hotel and found that the hotel restaurant had a great breakfast.  Even I, who is fine with Starbucks coffee and a croissant was pleasantly surprised at the savory breakfast we had.

Waiting for our Trolley (in the wrong location)

     We headed out to the American Indian Museum to wait for the Trolley, only to find we had positioned ourselves in the wrong location.  Luckily, the driver  picked us up and advised that we wait in front of the Science and Space Museum in the future.  We did not care, we were on the Trolley and off on the grand tour of one of most historic and exciting cities in this Nation.

To be continued…