It’s the middle of September and I’m already thinking about the holidays. Oh no. Not in a where-did-I-store-those-holiday-decorations-to-make-my-house-look-like-Macys way. No, no. Not in that way at all. I’m anticipating the holidays by:
- Thinking of Halloween when I’ll sit outside and pass out candy to adorable goblins and Ironman impersonators and princesses and whatever this year’s hero-of-the-day turns out to be, while Jack sits inside in the glow of the television, the blinds pulled, and headphones on to drown out the noise of the little home invaders. To be fair, one year he did put devil horns on the dog and join me outside. But, as the dog is a 150-pound mastiff, and Jack insisted on sitting so that he and the dog were hidden from view behind a holly bush, and the children didn’t see yellow-eyed dog or giant man until they were inches from the grinning faces of both, that little foray didn’t last long.
- Dreaming of Thanksgiving by which time Jack is generally so far inside himself that I’m keeping a notebook of the words he speaks each day. Just as a source of amusement for myself. God knows, I have to entertain myself somehow in a house where silence is preferable to a rant on the commercialization of family or yet another story about how in ’64 he ate canned ham and lima beans and, as a special treat because it was a holiday, washed it down with a warm beer fresh from the belly of the chopper that hauled away that day’s dead and wounded.
- By Christmas, I’ll be praying he makes it through without a trip to lock-down to escape cheery carols, and flashing colored lights, and the smiling, stupid faces of anyone who isn’t a combat vet. Because Jack is large and white-haired, he’ll shave his beard because if one more person yells a happy ‘ho ho ho’ at him as he passes he’s going to lose it. I’ll be counting the days until this, the worst time of year for my husband, is over and done for another year.
- And then we’ll finish up the season with a great burst of fireworks to ring in the New Year, when Jack will go to bed as soon as it’s dark, wake up twisted in sweat-soaked sheets and begin to recover from the holidays.
Through all these days and nights Jack will do his best to tolerate the adorable costumed children, enjoy time with family, and live through a weekly trip to the Christmas wonderland that is Walmart. He will shake off nightmares where green and red flashes of light in the dark bring not cheer but terror. He will withdraw into himself so that rage does not spew forth and shatter me and the dog with shrapnel. He will do his best to survive another holiday season.
And I will do the same.