During the holidays, one of the worst sounds to hear — in my opinion — is the sound of sirens.

They’re bad on any day, and during any time of the year. They speak of trauma, distress or of loss. If not loss, then they speak of borrowed time — time that someone only has because an EMT or other first-responder got there before it was too late. Sirens make me tense, and they often cause a pit in my stomach.

There’s a song called “Flying” by a band called The Samples which evokes a similar feeling in me. It’s incredibly sad, incredibly heavy. It makes my heart feel like it’s made of concrete. It’s about a flight that never made it home, and about the people who would never see their loved ones again.

Sirens filled the night air this evening, and their backdrop was holiday music that I had playing in another room. The two couldn’t have been more opposite. I wondered whether someone’s last breath had been taken, and who might be mourning instead of tearing open presents on Christmas morning. It seems weird to hope that the sirens would only end in someone’s arrest, but I wished this was the case.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I realize that it’s my favorite because of all the wonderful memories I’ve accumulated over the last almost 36 years. But when does something stop being a favorite? When you’ve had too much of it? (Not possible with me and Christmas.) When you’re exhausted by it? (Also not possible.) When key elements of Christmas are gone?

My key elements have always been my family — and someday we won’t all be here. Whether it’s in one year or in 30 years, something will change. Will Christmas still be my favorite then? Probably not for a while after things shift, but hopefully it will be again. Who knows? Until that time comes, I am thankful for togetherness, for family and for the sirens which have not yet sounded for us, and I am thankful we’ve arrived at another holiday season intact.

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