KUCHARUK: celebrate when you can

“We are going to celebrate when Daddy gets home”.

Christmas for families who have a partner who works in the resource industry is not always celebrated on December 25th. It might be December 22nd or December 28th or sometimes it is January 2nd and Christmas and New Years is celebrated in one fell swoop. It’s the nature of the business and one of the necessary evils when an individual works in the oil and gas industry.

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As I write this, there are partners who are packing up to leave for their shift out at camp, knowing that they won’t be home to participate in any of the fun over the holidays.

It’s hard. It’s difficult explaining to the kids that we will, “celebrate when Daddy gets home”.

We try our best to make the holiday exciting for the kids, but there is a piece of the puzzle missing.

When I was a little girl, my father owned a water trucking company that serviced the oil and gas industry and he was gone nearly all winter long. Christmas concerts, awards nights, parent/teacher interviews were all attended by my mom, but rarely my father. 

As we got older, we got used to the long absences, but it didn’t make them easier.

I have said to myself, “Christmas is just a day on a calendar, we can make Christmas any day we want”, but I know that isn’t true. Waiting to open the presents til December 27th is an exercise in futility – what child wants to wait? 

At our house we have tried every scenario: opening presents early or leaving them all until Daddy got home. Neither is ideal.

You might say that Christmas is not about gifts, it is about family and I don’t disagree. Christmas IS about spending it with family and when the family cannot be together, it loses some of its luster.

We all know that shift work is necessary. A partner working away is sometimes necessary. The world doesn’t stop spinning just so that everyone can be together on a certain day. 

Just because something is necessary it doesn’t make it easier.

Merry Christmas to all of the men and women who are heading out for their shift and will be away from home this year. Thank you for what you do! 

Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes. You can read her book “Naked Tuesday” or catch her on CBC Radio Daybreak North where she shares her “Peace of Mind”. Follow her on twitter @judylaine

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