Fa la la la blah … I’m just not feeling it
In a normal year, that would put us well on the way to a happy, relaxed holiday season.
The orders say this is not a normal year. The orders say Dad gets on a plane shortly after the holidays, heading first to another stateside base, then to Kuwait, then to Afghanistan.
The schedule is similar to last year, when Dad left Jan. 5 for Basic Combat Training. Except it's not the same at all, because no matter how many live rounds head your way during training, it's different when the bullets and the bombs are courtesy of the enemy and you never know when or from where they're coming.
"How many days 'til Christmas! How much longer! I can't waiiiiiiiittttttttttt!" Big Guy has cheered since just after Thanksgiving.
"Don't be in such a hurry to get rid of me," Dad says.
***Christmas shopping has brought the same dilemma we faced last year: What do you get for someone who's leaving soon and won't be able to take much with him?
Last year, we settled on a few CDs and shirts a size too small because we knew he'd drop weight during training. This year's situation is similar - he can take electronics he wasn't allowed to have in basic, but those all require converters so they'll work overseas. And of course I can't find anything strong enough to run anything bigger than a blow dryer.
"Just don't get me anything," Dad said. "There's no point."
He said the same thing last year. We ignored him then, too.
***We've already had the big pre-deployment blowup - the one that's seemingly about anything but Afghanistan, but when you dissect it to its root it's all about deployment after all - so at least that's out of the way.
At least I'd known it was coming - I'd heard about it on too many other blogs and forums to think it wouldn't happen. It arrived earlier than I thought it would, landing shortly after Thanksgiving.
The argument ostensibly was about money. It lasted an entire weekend that Dad spent upstairs in the man cave while I kept busy downstairs. We'd fight for a while then scurry off to our respective floors of the house. Or I'd scamper out the door with the guys. Anything, anywhere to escape the tension.
It blew the following Monday after the guys had left for school. We went on for an hour, revisiting every grievance dating back practically to the day we met. "You always." "You never" "Well, if you'd just ..." "You don't get it." A circle of anger that got us no where, because neither wanted to admit what really was going on.
"You know those people who get to have a midlife crisis?" Dad finally asked. "They go out and sky dive or buy a motorcycle. They're lucky. I get to go to war.
"I'm going to a f****** war. How did that happen? How did I get here?"
***It's been better since then. It's still hard to celebrate knowing what's to come, but we're doing a better job of faking it for the guys' sake. They didn't start the war. They didn't join the Army. They don't deserve to have one of their ever-dwindling numbers of magical Christmases marred by ugly memories.
They know their dad is going to Afghanistan after the holidays. They don't understand all the ramifications of that. They don't need to either.
Boots climbed on the bar stool next to the calendar after lunch today, pointed to the last crossed-off square and counted the numbers between it and "the 2 and the 5".
"Ten? Ten? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" he wailed. "That's too many. It will never get here.
"Yes, it will," I said. "It will be here before you know it."
"Yeah," Dad added. "It will."
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.