Picture this: you wake up to the smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven and your siblings scurrying down the stairs because they know what awaits them under the tree. You get out of bed and slip your Santa slippers on and run a brush through your hair. Walking downstairs, the cinnamon smell pulls you towards the direction of the kitchen where your brother has already managed to lick the icing spoon before you. Mom has turned on the Christmas lights and the tree is surrounded by gifts of all sizes. She manages to gather everyone inside the living room and you take a seat in front of the roaring fireplace. You look around and can't help but notice the missing element to this beautiful day. Someone's not here and he's 3,000 miles away serving your country.
Whether it be a mother or a father or even a sibling serving the country overseas, the holiday season doesn't seem to be complete unless everyone is together. There seems to be a dampening feeling on the holiday spirit as you long for those that cannot be with you.
I experienced this feeling last Thanksgiving. My father is in the State Department and he is serving in El Salvador. He was unable to come home for the holiday so my mom and my brother celebrated with a new feeling in our hearts: a greater genuine thankfulness for our family. We went to Virginia Beach and Skyped with Dad on Thanksgiving Day so we could spend the day together. We made it work so that he was able to be a part of the holiday but it wasn't the same. We all had a new approach to being thankful and that grew our family closer together as a whole.
This holiday season, enjoy the members of your family that can be with you but never forget those that cannot be with you in person. If you are able to have the entire family with you, show affection to those who cannot and open your mind and heart to a deeper meaning to the holiday season.
Never forget that with family, distance isn't able to dampen, stagger, decrease, lessen, or weaken the love that bonds you together. Although it can be difficult to spend the holiday season apart from your loved one, keep in mind that distance is temporary and love is permenant.