We always hear how magical the Christmas season is and how it is the most joyous time of the year. Many people may even take time off and enjoy extended blocks of time off with friends and family.
So many look forward to opening presents on Christmas morning with all of their family present, attending numerous family gatherings during the month of December, going out of town to see family, and so much more.
But things usually look a bit different for first responder families.
The reality is for first responder families, we can’t always do what so many other families do across the nation. We have to work really hard at bringing the Christmas magic into our homes and lives.
A first responder family will celebrate on different days and at odd hours
We may not be opening gifts on the morning of December 25th. It may be a week before, a week after or in the afternoon of Christmas Day.
While Christmas is just a day on the calendar and we know you can make memories any day of the year, some of us long for a day of “normalcy.” We wish we could have some sort of tradition surrounding Christmas Day.
We have changed our plans more times than we can count
Not only that, but we have changed our said alternate plans numerous times. Plans as an immediate family, plans with friends, plans with extended family- it always changes. We want to participate in holiday activities but it comes with a lot of “what-ifs” and considerations that many other people just don’t understand.
While the families of first responders are good about going with the flow and making changed plans work, it can no doubt be hard on the children of those families when one parent is always missing out.
This can be the hardest time of year for the first responder in the family
During this time of year, calls and scenes become harder. Suicides are on the rise and first responders witness people at their lowest points.
Yet, they leave those calls and hard shifts and are “supposed” to put on a joyous face to enjoy the holiday festivities with others. It is no doubt hard on them.
Every year we are learning to find ways for Christmas to work best for our family
While many families have traditions set in stone, many first responder families are learning to just make the holidays work regardless of any tradition.
We can’t always have set days or times to look at Christmas lights or eat our Christmas dinner or go to Christmas Eve mass.
Our plans are never really constant and that is just the way it is. We look for any open window of time to celebrate anything and willingly take it because otherwise, we may not get another open window.
We wish we didn’t have to say no various holiday gatherings, but we do
It’s nothing personal, promise. But we can’t do it all. We don’t have a lot of time as a family during the holidays, so yes, sometimes we have to decline family and friends invitations.
And when part of a first responder family says yes to joining your festivities, please don’t ask them where the first responder in their family is. You can assume they are working and would love nothing more than to be at your event.
This may not sound normal to the average 9-5 family, but it is normal for us.
We just ask that you respect that our holiday plans are different and that’s okay. We make them work for us and that is all that matters.
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