Home For The Holidays
by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Everyone wants to be home for the holidays, even if only in our dreams, or so says the old carol. Thanksgiving and Christmas are especially difficult times to be away from home. Our thoughts are packed with memories and emotions that at times, quite literally, define who we are, and where we come from, or at the very least say a lot about what we wish were true.
Nostalgia is defined by the dictionary as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” The word is actually a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning “pain, ache”, and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home.
It’s literally a longing so strong that it causes pain. Now that’s powerful stuff.
Not being with family and friends is one thing, but being in an alien country, with strange customs, smells, foods and landscapes, has to be even more difficult. Even if you get used to your strange surroundings, the emotions that bubble up during the holidays can be difficult to deal with.
Which is why I think being in a war zone during the holidays must be one of the most difficult. Even if you believe you’re there for a reason, the pull of home has to be strong.
Working as a military contractor, Heather hasn’t been home in almost two years. Heather is a Jersey girl. A surfer. A beach bum. And while she might be used to sand, living in Kandahar, Afghanistan is not the kind of sand she grew up with.
She hasn’t seen the ocean, or walked along the beach. She hasn’t seen her family, or hung out with her friends. She can’t drink. She can’t have an intimate relationship. She walks to the showers in flip flops and a flak jacket.
Imagine how much you take for granted. Stopping at Wawa for coffee in the morning. A hoagie from Mandy’s on the way to go see what the waves are doing. A lazy Sunday afternoon in Fred’s with football, chicken wings, cold beer and a whiskey back.
Just imagine it was you who wanted to get home for the holidays this year. Then click on the link and donate what you can afford to bring joy to someone else this Christmas season.