Christmas Time

Why do I always feel sad?

I hope the title will not turn you off. I don't really know why I'm writing this, but I had to try to put something down to explain to my family and friends why I get down at this time of year.

It has nothing to do with my wife or my children and grandchildren. If it were not for them I would have no Christmas at all!

Here I am on December 21, 1999, age 54, with all of these feelings that I just can't get rid of. You would think that by now, I'd quit wanting to be somewhere else, besides home, for Christmas. Well, I guess you just can't explain, or even apply logic to, some feelings. I just get overwhelmed with all the over-blaring-input about how wonderful things are suppose to be this time of year.

Two of the best Christmases I ever had were at James Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas back in 1966 and 1967. The only way you knew it was Thanksgiving or Christmas was the big meal they served in the mess hall! I didn't have time for much TV back in those days, so I did not get overloaded with all the Christmas programs either.

The Thanksgivings and Christmas leaves from LWMA were very hard after my return in the fall of 1961. LWMA was where I wanted to be! Going home for the week of Thanksgiving and the two weeks of Christmas seemed to be a big waste of time. My family was not the sort you'd expect and getting along at home was a challenge for me most of the time. My dad had died in USAF airplane crash when I was five years old and my mother was a paranoid schizophrenic. I know that was not her fault, and I loved her in spite of that.

So that left my grandmother as my legal guardian. She was the self-educated daughter of a Methodist minister and she was the postmaster of the small suburban town where we lived. She and my mother's sister, Aunt D, were, of course, perfect in every way. My brother and I always heard how wonderful my cousin J was. J was Aunt D's son and never did anything wrong either!

Now you begin to see what I did not want to have to put up with at the big get-togethers in November and December. As part of being sent to LWMA in 1959, my brother and I had to endure eight days in jail. My brother and I were sixteen and fourteen at the time. During that time my mother was declared insane and my grandmother was given guardianship over us. We were in jail because that was the only place where the county could hold us until the legal process was complete, or so we were told later. There was no YDC in those days. We were not under arrest, but we were locked up behind bars. To be honest, I think my grandmother was a little afraid of us.

From then on my grandmother held the power of the insane asylum over my mother and the power of the jail over my brother and me! My poor mother never escaped that threat until my grandmother died. My brother and I did get away from anymore threats when we became adults. Thank God!

Maybe now you can see why LWMA meant freedom to me and going home was a burden. Thanksgiving and Christmas were just two great big wonderful reminders of all the things we had lost when our father was killed. I do know in my heart, that had my dad been alive there would have been no eight days in jail because things would have never gotten that bad!

My grandmother was not the worst person in world. After all she did send us to LWMA!

When I was nineteen I dropped out of college and tried to join the USAF. I say, "tried" because it took me more then six months get accepted and I was twenty by then. I ended up spending Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1965 and New Years of 1966 in Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. No time to think about it!

The next two holiday seasons found me in Waco, Texas. I saved all of my thirty days of leave each year and took the whole month of June off. I went home, each time for a short while, and then I spent most of my leave time in Columbus, Georgia. My best friend from LWMA lived there, and so did all of my girlfriends. My friend's mother always treated me as if I were one of her other six kids. To be accepted like that, as just one of the family was wonderful. I can't explain that family, or mine, but I hope you are in one where everyone is loved and respected without any reservations!

I guess it was just as I said in my "First Days at LWMA" story. (After spending Thanksgiving of 1959 at LWMA.) "From then on I felt more at home at LWMA than I did in the house where I grew up."

Thanks for letting me put all that down. Now, maybe, I can go on and enjoy the Christmas of 1999 and New Years of 2000!

Merry Christmas to anyone who reads this,

Brian V. Brunner
LWMA 1964


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