The Christmas Clock
Mysterious Ways|December/January 2021
It was December 2012, a week before Christmas. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table in Missouri, watching the hands of my Christmas clock tick toward the hour. I was waiting to hear it play “Silent Night,” which it did every night at 11 o’clock. The tune always lifted my spirits. But the second hand passed the hour mark without a peep. My heart sank. The music mechanism must have broken. You couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for my life—I kept on ticking, but the joy was missing.
Maella Blalock

The past few years had been difficult. I’d served in the Army for 26 years, including as a military foreign area officer in Western Europe. I’d lived there with my husband and our daughters. My husband was enlisted but had retired from the military after we got married. Now I was retired too. And divorced. My three girls were grown and living on their own. My life felt small compared to the adventure it had once been.

Retirement had been a big adjustment. As a lieutenant colonel, I was used to overcoming challenges, but reintegrating into civilian life proved unexpectedly difficult. I had spent decades climbing the Army hierarchy. I’d rubbed shoulders with world leaders and headed political-military operations. My husband and I had moved to Michigan at the end of my career. In our new neighborhood, I didn’t feel respected by the men or relatable to the women. I didn’t know how to fit in outside the military world that I’d been a part of for most of my adult life.

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