As all firefighter families know, even though your partner's schedule can at times seem like a dream, they don't always get major holidays off. Sigh. It comes with the territory.
We get used to it though.
When my husband was first hired, he shipped off to special training on my birthday. I remember him feeling so horrible and awful to leave me on "my day," but I couldn't understand why. "It's just another day honey," I said to him, "Your career is more important than a day on the calendar."
And it is.
A firefighters family learns to adjust their way of thinking when it comes to those boxes on the calendar. We stop looking at Saturdays and Sundays in terms of a weekend and instead, replace our previous thought process with a new one that is made up of shift cards and multi-colored squares labelled A, B, C and D shift. These become our new normal. Our new way to see things. Our new compass when it comes to the monthly calendar - and as soon as that happens, everything changes.
Sure, weekends don't exist anymore in the traditional sense, but they are replaced with large chunks of time mid-week and the opportunity to trade shifts with a fellow firefighter to take time off that would be impossible in another profession. It's a give and a take and like most things in life, you learn to compromise and make the best out of the time you are able to have together.
This year, my husband works on Christmas Eve - which may not seem like a big deal, but when you have family from this way and that wanting to spend time with you during the holidays, the loss of even one day can put a hitch in your get along. It can make scheduling the holiday festivities a bit more challenging.
That's just the way it is.
Although we're surrounded by loving and supportive people who understand that it's just the nature of the job, it's still hard to please everyone. So instead of going to them this year on Christmas Eve, they are coming to us. We're baking a ham at the firestation and my husband is making his delicious potato au gratin dish to go with it. My mom is bringing dessert (the most important part of the night) and another wife is bringing her homemade potato rolls (ok, it might be a competition between these and the dessert). We are going to open a few gifts and hopefully not get interrupted by calls - but if we do, we're prepared, we're also bringing The Polar Express to watch on the ginormous TV at the firestation (is it just me, or do all firestations have ginormous TVs).
It might not be home, but it's the closest we're going to get on Christmas Eve and we'll be together...which is the most important thing of all.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
PS - Keep your tree watered.