Christmas Without my Dad

By Elizabeth Graeme

This year I won’t get to have Christmas with my daddy because I am in Japan (where we are posted for duty) and he is in Ukraine and that’s super scary! Right now there is a war there and we sometimes see on the news that Russia is trying to bomb the very city my daddy is in! Not cool. Daddy will only be in Ukraine a few weeks, he went to relieve someone at the embassy in Kyiv that hasn’t gotten to see their family in almost a year since the war started. Kids and families are not allowed to be there because it’s too dangerous, so families have been apart for a long time.

I don’t like that it means I don’t get to have my family together for Christmas, but I understand it’s important for them to get a chance to be together too. Mommy says we all have to make sacrifices and a few weeks over the holidays is a lot better than many months over the entire year and we should feel lucky it won’t be for too long.

It is hard spending Christmas without my Dad for many reasons. I’m really scared when they say that bombs are hitting in Ukraine. What if it’s a building my dad is in? Me and my mom get sad and nervous. Daddy is really good about sending us messages when attacks happen to let us know he’s ok, but we still worry.

They do a lot to keep him safe, he has to go to work in an armored van every day. He can’t leave his hotel without alerting their security staff. He has to keep his phone with him at all times and listen for air raid warning sirens. When that happens he has to go to the nearest bunker to take shelter. Sometimes he’s there for hours.

Mommy says some people think Daddy is lucky to be a diplomat instead of a soldier in the military, but she doesn’t agree, she says it’s equally hard they both have very difficult jobs, just in different ways. Military go into war zones with weapons and armor to defend themselves. Daddy has to go into the same war zones with no self-protection at all, just his pen and paper, he depends on others to keep him safe!

Marines guard embassy staff when they are overseas, if something happens daddy depends on the Marines to protect him and keep him safe. It’s hard to have that much trust in people, but he says the Marines are very good at their jobs and he has “absolute faith in them.” The Marines depend on people like daddy to help end the wars, to help make rules to war and to make sure they get all the equipment and supplies they need to fight. She says it’s a “symbiotic” relationship. (Symbiotic means they depend on each other.)

It’s also hard having daddy in Ukraine because it means I won’t get to open my presents until he comes home in January! We decided as a family to put off Christmas and wait a few extra weeks for him to come home. I am super excited for him to come home, we have so many plans of things we want to do. We only have a short time left to our post in Japan and there’s tons we still want to do, I can’t wait for him to get back so we can start doing them! I miss my dad so much.

My mom is fun, but it’s not the same without my dad. I bet it’s this way for a lot of kids that don’t get both parents (or sometimes any parents) at the holidays. Sometimes I get scared, sad or lonely and my mom reminds me that hard times like this that makes us strong, makes us more independent and hopefully a more nice and kind person. Being all those things is important, I know, but I’d still rather have my dad home with us, safe and sound.

Elizabeth is a 4th grader who lives in Forks when her dad is not assigned elsewhere in the world.