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A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Photo of my 3 kids in front of a Christmas tree when they were little

Our favorite ornament on the tree was received by my husband 16 years ago. A round red globe holds a small framed photo of our children. When you press a button, 3 little voices ring out in an offbeat chorus, “I love my Daddy! I love my Daddy! I love my Daddy! Merry Christmas!!” The kids and I laugh every year about struggling to get them to say that in sync. I finally gave up and ‘settled’ for having it in a round. The imperfection and shared memories are what makes the ornament a treasured memento.

When life doesn’t go as planned, lean in and laugh. That’s where the magic hides.

This year, on Christmas Day all but one of our family of five will board a plane to San Antonio to celebrate the holiday with our sweet red-headed Alex. He has been at Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) since October 30th. I have missed him so much!! 

Unfortunately, this Christmas our family is dealing with more injuries and disappointment. This time it’s not me; it’s Alex. Both my husband and I have had a hard time focusing on Christmas or much of anything else because our hearts are already with him in San Antonio. I know God won’t give us more than we can handle, but geez I wish he’d stop trusting our resilience so much!

With only a week and a half to go in BMT, Alex was persuaded to get the pain in his legs checked out. He had been pushing through it because it’s what we do when we’re on a mission to meet a goal. Right?? Sometimes that isn’t enough. Like when I was pushing through extreme pain walking only to learn after 3 months of effort that my pelvis hadn’t actually healed attached to my spine and I broke one of the bolts holding me together. I made YouTube video the day I received that news. (When life gives you lemons, make a cup of tea.) I bet you can think of a time you’ve been pushing hard toward a goal, proud of your 100% committed effort, only to have a wrench thrown in the whole deal. How did you respond?

But back to Alex…. He has level 3-4 stress fractures in both lower legs. Thankfully no joints are involved. He was pulled from his squadron and put in the Med Hold unit where he waits to heal until he has the ability to re-join another training flight in their week 6 of BMT. As we know, fractures of any kind take as long to heal as bones take; there’s no speeding it up. He and the others in Med Hold are in a…well, a holding pattern. Now they work at training their mental fortitude and resilience. Which is so much harder than training physical ability. In the example from your own life that came to mind, how well did you play the mental game? Did you give up or did you persevere despite a disappointing set-back?

Alex was supposed to be in the graduation activities December 27th – 30th, including leaving base on town leave and being one of the Airmen selected to unfurl the U.S. flag at the Alamo Bowl. He doesn’t get any of that now. BUT…. he still gets base leave on those four days and we are still flying down to spend the time with him. What a blessing!!! AND…. he still wants to see his buddies graduate, to congratulate them and celebrate with them. This is one PROUD MAMA!!

When life hits you like a truck and things don’t play out perfectly the way you imagined in your head, how you react determines everything. (It seems the holiday season itself produces all kinds of those examples.) Look for the humor, the gratitude, and the reasons to celebrate. Our resilience muscles grow stronger every time we get out of our own head and look around for the magic hiding in plain sight.

From me and and my family, we wish you a perfectly imperfect and magical Christmas!