Walked into the Fisher House tonight and was greeted by a Christmas tree and decorations! The fourth floor has gotten a gorgeous tree from Operation Ward 57, as well as other trees, garland and wreaths. The Yellow Ribbon Fund delivered a wreath to us today that we added to the tree and wreath from Yvette.
All of these decorations look beautiful, but I must confess, they make me a little sad. Being away, especially during the holidays is hard. I am missing the lights on the houses at home, decorating my own house, and putting up my tree with my kids. We have a tradition at home where the kids take turns placing the tree top. Christmas morning, although we will all gather in Derek's room with our gifts, it won't be the same.
I am going to miss putting the gifts under the Christmas tree, turning on the Christmas music and coffee pot and waiting for the kids to come downstairs. I am going to miss gathering at either my home or my sister's home with our family, cooking dinner, opening presents and enjoying one another's company while the kids play.
Although it will be different, and although it will be a little sad to be here and not home, we will have a wonderful Christmas. Although finances are a lot tighter this year, gifts, although never extensive, will be leaner, and although we will not be at home, we will be together. The family is coming back down for Christmas. Rooms have already been booked and plans have been made. That is true love and devotion that they would go out of their way, AGAIN, to come to us for Christmas... that my sister, brother-in-law and nephews are missing Christmas Eve with Brian's family.
But most importantly, besides Jesus' birthday, we are celebrating that Derek is still alive. We almost lost him. Thinking about what Christmas could have been had I received a knock on the door rather than a phone call, had those wonderful battle buddies not been so quick to render aid, had Dr. Perdue and the rest of the staff in Bethesda not been so phenomenal, I choke up. This will be a wonderful Christmas, although different, because we will be giving thanks for all that we have and we will be together.
And it is only getting better. Although it is hard now, and I am not going to pretend it doesn't suck, we have always landed on our feet. Through sheer will power, strength and a fighting spirit, as well as prayer, we have made it. And although this is hard, and although being away from my children is killing me, and although financially things are the worse they have been in a while, I know we will make it.
So, that Christmas tree and those decorations, although they make me a little sad and remind me that I am not home, are also a sign of hope and good things to come.
Today Derek skipped the Matc (Military Amputation Training Center). He was not tired. Actually, he was quite excited.
CBS wanted to interview a wounded warrior at WRNMMC and Derek was selected! It was so interesting to see the process from the other side of the camera. Now I cannot wait to see what they actually air!
At first, Derek and Dr. Perdue were questioned about the services at WRNMMC. Dr. Perdue sat in "Dr. West's chair." Yes, it has that sign on it. Dr. West complained that we were making him stand when there was a perfectly good chair sitting there. I guess he didn't notice it at the computer the whole time. So, we put a sign on it indicating that it was for him. Jokes were made that Dr. Perdue was impersonating Dr. West.
I am not going to give away all that was discussed, but if any of Derek's platoon mates or their wonderful wives are reading this, there is a special message that was taped for the guys. Hopefully, that will make the air!
It is being shown during the first quarter of the Army/Navy game on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. on CBS. Tune in and watch Derek and cheer for the Army! He looked and sounded so good, although he was a lot more serious than he usually is!
After the interview, we went down to Uncle Vito's Christmas Party in the America Building. It was so crowded! They need to find a bigger room next year. Santa was there with gifts for the kids, and there was a raffle. I won tickets to a Christmas concert next week and Krystina won tickets to a hockey game. Derek and Krystina have two exciting date nights coming up! They haven't been on a real date in.... well, ever! They always went out with friends or family, never on a real date just the two of them. I am going to take the opportunity next week to go Christmas shopping.
After the party, Dr. Diego came and hung out for a while. He left traumatized! The look on his face when Derek was showing him videos, especially Eden Wood's video, "Cutie Patootie," was hysterical. Poor guy! Then Derek quizzed him on American history! He didn't know he was walking into an ambush! We love him, and I am so glad he came to hang out. We won't allow Derek to traumatize you next time!
Things are looking up. One day at a time. Derek is healing and Team Derek is supporting him. www.facebook.com/teamderekmcconnell
So, we are looking forward to Christmas coming. Derek is stronger and will be able to enjoy it. Had he not been hurt, he would be in Afghanistan for Christmas. There is an upside to getting blown up! He gets to be with us for Christmas!
10th Mountain is having another Christmas dinner, and we are going! Thanksgiving was wonderful, so we are looking forward to it.
Guess that is the theme for tonight..... looking forward to the future::: Family coming soon, Christmas party tomorrow night in Bldg 62, Army/Navy game, seeing Derek's interview aired, concert Saturday night, concert for Krystina and Derek next week, hockey game, Christmas, family coming, Christmas dinner at the Omni Shore, family coming, etc.
There is a lot to be happy about this Christmas. So, in the spirit of the twelve days of Christmas, let's count our gifts!
1 - My 5 wonderful children - Michael, Derek, Kellina, Ryan and Sean!
2 - My sister and brother-in-law.
3 - My nephews - Joey, Eric and AJ.
4 - My Dad.
5 - Krystina!
6 - Our extended family and friends who have been so supportive and understanding during this time.
7 - Wonderful doctors, nurses, corpsmen, medics, and other medical professionals.
8 - New friends who we have met on this journey, including those who work at the hospital.
9 - Silly shows and people who make us laugh.
10 - Non profit groups who come and help the wounded warriors.
11 - Love.
12 - God.
So, if I could wrap them up and put them under the Christmas tree, we would have very rich Christmas indeed!! Instead, we will celebrate those gifts, because the money just isn't there to buy much more. The kids understand since money was never free flowing.
This Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever you are celebrating, try to concentrate on what really matters instead of filling the pockets of the store owners. I stopped going into debt for Christmas a couple of years ago when I realized that.
God bless. Merry Christmas. Climb to glory!