Be Careful what you wish for: An Army Brat’s tale.

By Erik Woessner

Everyone knows the old saying,  “be careful what you wish for– you might get it”. In this case I would also add be careful what you complain about you; might regret it. While living in Puerto Rico, my father was stationed at Fort Buchanan at the time, I learned this lesson the hard way. I believe it was our second year there, we had just moved into our new house in Palmas Del Mar, a resort community on the island.

It was Christmas time. I must have been around 11 or 12. Mom was getting the house all decorated and cleaned in preparation for our grandparents arriving.  and I recall saying how commercialized Christmas was. What brought that about was I think my brother and myself desire to avoid having to help put up decorations and help set up the tree. My mother decided to teach us a little lesson and said, “ok, if that’s how you feel Christmas is canceled this year. I’m not getting you any presents.” Now I’m certain she expected my brother and myself to fold, but we were rather stubborn children, or as dad liked to say, pains in the ass. So, we said fine! (As I recall we only got presents from our grandparents who were unaware of the ‘cancellation’.)

While humorous, there is an important lesson to take away from all of this. Yes, it’s true a lot of Christmas activities have become commercialized, but the real joy of Christmas is to be able to spend it with family. As an Army Brat, I can remember several Christmases where my father wasn’t there, or we were moving and had to have Christmas among our moving boxes.

The idea of the traditions is to help bring the family together, the decorating, the preparations, are a way to bring the family closer together to be able to celebrate the simple gift of being together as a family and to realize how precious that is.

Far too often, we do tend to look at it as an excuse to give trinkets and baubles to people, without realizing that Christmas is often one of the few times family from far and wide gather together. Christmas is not about the gifts– it’s about the love and unity of family enjoying time together. And that was a lesson I learned that year, though it took me several more before I realized its importance, because despite not getting many gifts, we had a great time, a great meal and great family fun.





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