Christmas for Cousins afar

The nature of military life is that almost everyone you know well and care about lives far away from you. We get lucky at times and end up near close friends. But not this year. We are working on building a village and community here in New York but, as always, it takes time.

My girls’ cousins all live in Texas, except for a couple just down the road in New Jersey and one in Virginia. It turns out, Texas is far from New York. In years past, we traveled to Texas to see the cousins and allow all the kids ample time to grow up together as much as we could living thousands of miles away. My girls speak about their cousins often and ask when we will see them again. My honest answer to them is “I don’t know”. My sister chose to cut us out of her life about 18 months ago for reasons unknown to us…. and my girls are not even aware of that dynamic. While the girls may not get an opportunity to see their cousins, we do send them gifts for all of their birthdays as well as Christmas.

While we were putting together their gifts this week, wrapping and packing a box to mail to Texas, I asked them to write on the Christmas card that was to be included in the box. What joy and thought and love they poured into that card. I watched them as they took their sweet time thinking of things to write and say, asking me which letter comes next in each word and how to spell their cousin’s names. As I witnessed this adorable childhood moment take place, I realized it was one that needed to be documented and frozen in time for many reason, but mostly to show them later and to remember how we did our best to keep the ties between estranged family members for the sake of our children and their future without us.

We are anticipating a quiet and calm Christmas at our house this year.

No planes to catch.

No deployed daddies to miss.

No overwhelming amounts of presents to buy or wrap.

No hustle and bustle.

No expectations other than slow and simple and easy. Low-key. Just the way Christmas should be. And we are thankful above all.

And as our package for the cousins makes its way halfway across the US, we hope the same for them. And for all. And especially for our Marine Corps family that is mourning the loss of fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, and friends in Japan. We remember that not everyone’s Christmas will be “merry and bright” this year, and in the years to come.

photo courtesy of pexels

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