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2004-12-24 23:48:20 (UTC)

Christmas of Despair, Christmas of Joy

My Christmas of despair was in 1972. That year Steven died
in early November and two days after he was buried our
daughter was still-born. The Vietnam War was ending and
stand downs were being ordered. Men in Steven's unit were
being told they would be home by Christmas and they were.
That Christmas season was so hard for me. I could not
understand how the rest of the world could go on, enjoying
the things the season offered. I couldn't listen to
Christmas songs or carols without crying; everything made me
either cry or feel numb. I felt as if I were being slapped
when a stranger smiled and wished me "Merry Christmas!"
I was reminded of all this when I read an article in today's
newspaper about an annual ceremony held at the Vietnam
Veteran's Memorial. A nine foot Christmas tree marking the
center of the black granite wall of the Memorial holds
messages of gratitude, rememberance and hope mailed in by
members of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund. "The idea
is that there are so many soldiers from Vietnam who never
came home for the holidays," said JoAnn Mangione, a
spokeswoman for the memorial fund.

My Christmas of joy is this year. I am so very fortunate
to be married to John, a man I love more than the day we
married twenty-five years ago. We have four wonderful sons
who are happy and healthy, a lovely home which is our refuge
from the world, friends who care and support us, a church
family who is always there for us, a community where we feel
safe and secure. I am truly blessed.