My family has always been conscientious about family gatherings, especially during holidays. And of course, one of our favorite holidays is Christmas, a day that we pay homage to the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It seems like there is a special excitement in the air during the Christmas season. Homes and public places are decorated with bright lights and colorful menageries to lift our spirits. There are shopping sprees to pick that perfect gift for our loved ones, the cooking and baking that fills the house with the familiar smells of the Christmas season. And nothing raises your spirit like the camaraderie of decorating the Christmas tree, especially if the grand & great-grandkids are there to help. Their enthusiasm and energy does more to re-vitalize this old body than a full bottle of Hadacol (for you youngsters under 60, Google “Hadacol”).

However, there were a sequence of Christmases in the 1980s that I had to coerce myself into celebrating the Christmas holidays. Our two sons had graduated from high school and gone into military service for four years. Bryan was stationed in Germany and Barry Jr. in New Hampshire. Military duty took preference over family functions. Although there were other family members at hand….it just wasn’t the same without our two sons.

Our sons absence for the most glorious holiday of the year made me think about all our military men and women stationed in all four corners of the world, men and women in harms way, separated from their families for months, even years, I’m sure, trying to keep the “Spirit of the Occasion”. And back home, the spouse doing one’s utmost to provide a safe and Merry Christmas for their children without the benefit of their father or mother.

In March of 2020, an alien form attacked the world. People by the hundreds of thousands were getting sick…and even worse, thousands were dying from this little known monster. Our health officials tell us there is no cure or vaccination, that prevention is our only escape. Their recommendation for prevention is to wear a face mask, keep a minimum distance from other people and avoid crowds of more than six people. Also, statistics have shown that the elderly with underlying health problems have the highest risk of fatality.

Because Judy and I are considered elderly, we have followed their guide lines as close as possible. We have canceled four of our annual family social affairs such as Cemetery Declaration Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. We had kept our fingers crossed that our medical scientist would have a vaccine by late November, but we have given up hope that that’s ever going to happen.

Our families have decided, since we have family members working and young members going to school, the risk of spreading the disease is too great, and now….our individual families will celebrate “A CHRISTMAS WITHOUT CHRISTMAS”.

Author’s Note: Because of their immeasurable sacrifices for our country, I have a special place in my heart for veterans. I want to thank all our veterans for their service and wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. For those stationed abroad….come home to your families safe and soon.

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