Throughout the many Christmas seasons that have followed 2006, I have struggled to find balance. For many of those years I did the best I could to avoid the season. I was lucky, I had married a wonderful woman who loved the Christmas season and took on the complete burden of doing all the shopping, food preparation and wrapping of gifts. I had become a non-factor in the holiday. I was merely present for the gatherings and gift exchange. The month of December is an unpleasant month for me. I had become somewhat of an expert at keeping a smile on my face and yet my brother’s empty chair was still present. Compiled with the survivor’s guilt from two years in Iraq, I had lost the ability to enjoy Christmas. My mind wouldn’t allow it. As with most activities I used to enjoy, I had learned to suppress anything that brought me joy. It wasn’t fair for me to partake in the Season of Joy if my dead friends could not.