Dad’s job has never been a typical 9 to 5, taking him out of town for a week or two at a time. The shifts are usually inflexible, which means that Dad has been at work for lots of birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries, and Thanksgivings.
A couple of times he’s been able to surprise us by getting a few days off and driving home in the middle of the night to make a holiday. This has led to humorous incidents, like the time Dad drove home Christmas Eve. Sister and I came running into Mom and Dad’s room to wake them up Christmas Day so we could open presents from Santa, and I was confused to see both Mom and Dad there. My first instinct was to say, “Dad, is that you?” which led Dad, equally confused, to ask “Well, who else would it be?” Needless to say, Mom wasn’t super impressed by my question. We all still laugh over it.
Most of the time, however, Dad’s gone for at least some of the holidays, and so we move around holidays to accommodate his schedule. Thanksgiving with Dad has rarely been on Thanksgiving, and we often end up having two Christmases, one with Dad and one with other family. This is how I’ve grown up, and it’s never bothered me one bit. Holidays have always been viewed as a time for being together and enjoying each other’s company, more so now that I’m studying away from home.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about my family’s view toward holidays. Growing up in a family where holidays are less about a date and more about being together has led me to think of holidays as important occasions that are given a date merely for the sake of making sure we don’t forget about them. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth as well as the gifts we have been given throughout the year, including each other. While traditionally celebrated on the 25th, the calendar need not dictate when we can celebrate these things. I can be thankful for the birth of Jesus any time of the year.
I’m thankful for having grown up in a family where holidays have taken on such a meaning. It’s allowed me to view them as more important and meaningful than certain rituals you do on a certain day. The calendar is arbitrary but the meanings of holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are important and valuable, and changing the date doesn’t discredit the time you get to spend with the people you love.
As we head into Valentine’s Day, I’ve seen how my view of holidays has impacted my view of this one. I won’t be celebrating with the person of my choice, so this is yet another holiday I’ll be moving until another time (the beginning of March, to be exact). I’ll be moving my anniversary up a couple of weeks too, and this isn’t the first time we’ve done some shifting of these holidays. But at the end of the day, it’s not the date that matters. What matters is how you choose to celebrate the meaningful things in life and who you choose to celebrate them with.