Among Firsts

Posted: 10th January 2014 by admin in Blog
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The mom spending the first Christmas without her son.

The daughter spending the first Christmas without her mom.

The mom whose son was deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of December.

The young transman whose family has disowned him after his body started to change, when it was obvious this was no longer “just a phase”, leaving him on his own for the holidays to create a family out of close friends in an effort to ease the hurt of their rejection.

We expect a lot from our holidays, this mad rush to be happy, happy, happy and to buy, buy, buy. We readily jump to acknowledge the passing of the first Christmas when it adds to our holiday spirit and brings us up—baby’s first Christmas, our first Christmas as a married couple, our first Christmas in our new house. Having been through two first Christmases that can be described as anything but adding to the holiday spirit, Christmas is not usually my favorite time of year. Our first Christmas after the mother’s death when I was seven was nothing short of gut wrenching. The second first Christmas, this time after the father’s death ten years later, was life altering. At this point, Christmas is mostly a season to be endured until the afternoon of December 25th, when relief floods into me and I can breathe again for another year.

I find myself more reflective in the weeks leading up to Christmas than at most other times of the year. During my reflection this year, I couldn’t help but note the firsts going on around me. The examples I offered above are real people in my life right now, real people who just went through their first gut wrenching or life altering holiday season without someone they love. Real people, maybe waiting to breathe again when the holiday season ended.  For my friend Julie, it may be a bit different—her son, Michael, is serving in the Army and periodically she posts photos of a beautiful young man in fatigues, armed with automatic weapons. He’s still here…he just wasn’t HERE for the holidays. Still a first.

It makes me wonder how many of us jump to recognize these other firsts as we do baby’s first Christmas or the first Christmas in our new house. How many of us are willing to be “adopted” as family of choice by the kids who have been turned away or kicked out? How many of us are even aware of those kids? It’s a different kind of demanding a lot from the holidays to go beyond our comfort zones and expose ourselves, to exist with the unease or the pain of the difficult holidays.

December 25th has come and gone. In our reflections as 2014 progresses, let this be a year for us to recognize the many kinds of firsts that we all share and treat the difficult ones, the ones we sometimes shy away from for our own comfort, with as much attention and love as the joyous ones.

Happy new year, Urban Tidepool friends!




  1. T. D. Davis says:

    Amen! Very well said. Best to you.

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