Who doesn't love a holiday? A day off work (hopefully) to spend with your family and loved ones, good food, fun times! My favorite is Thanksgiving. I love the crisp air of a fall day, the smell of turkey baking in the oven, the excitement for the beginning of a season. What I love most is spending time with my family... corny, I know. My parents might visit from Florida and my brother from NYC. We get to be silly like the good old days.
Then come the waves of sadness. They strike me when I least expect them. A joke about the turkey being too dry perhaps... "At least we have food to eat, I wonder if my husband ate today?" I might think to myself. Darn those waves, ruining my fun! The truth is, these thoughts are like white noise in my brain. There isn't much I experience without thinking about him. But holidays have a way of turning up the volume.
The most difficult one for me is New Year's Eve/Day. At midnight, everyone kisses their significant other in celebration of a new year. I never brought in the new year with my husband so, instead I find the closest child to hug and kiss but inside I want to cry. Sometimes I excuse myself and do so in private, who wants to be a Debbie Downer? A new year- a loud reminder that another 365 days have come and gone without my husband. New Year's suck for me.
Christmas, Fourth of July, even Valentine's Day don't phase me much these days. I kind of go through the motions for my kids' sake, but for me, they are no different than other days. I used to visit my husband on some holidays so that the kids could share their excitement with him. Not anymore. I have seen that holidays do not exist in prison. The guards treat inmates with the same disdain as always; they may even resent them for having to spend a holiday with them. I am not allowed to bring him any special foods/treats, not a thing to make him feel like it's a special day. Nothing is different.
Father's Day isn't the greatest for my kids. At school, they usually make a craft as a gift for Father, Papa, Daddy, Papi... but if it contains glitter or staples or is in any way two or three dimensional, then it gets shelved "for when he comes home." That is so unfair! Of course, I take it upon myself to send a prison-approved card and we fill it with their drawings, dedications and signatures. We also make sure to recognize those other father figures in their lives. Abuelo (grandpa), uncles and Godfathers usually receive a gift or token of our appreciation (though it can be hard as we may not see them on that day). I assure my kids, "one day, when daddy comes home, we will have a huge celebration!"In the meantime, we imagine what it will be like- our very own holiday.