Christmas: 1400 Hours

Okay! The holiday season has kicked off in the good old U. S. of A. Thanksgiving Day is in the rearview mirror, and Christmas is on the horizon. Not to be outdone, New Year’s Day will be firing up after the Jolly Old Elf makes his rounds.

Yes, 2023 will come crawling in while 2022 shuffles out. Of course, the handoff from the ancient mumbling shuffler to the diaper-wearing new year will include plenty of toasting, fireworks, and craziness around the globe.

Wow! Those first two paragraphs were fun to write. However, I feel compelled to bring up something less amusing. The title, “1400 hours,” refers to 2:00 p.m. for most in the U. S. So, you ask, what is not funny about midafternoon on a holiday?

Holiday planning, expenses, travel, and stress precede holiday gatherings. Then many folks get together for morning festivities, decadent lunches, football games on television, old times remembered, and, in many cases consuming a significant amount of adult beverages.

Shortly after lunchtime, chances are some will have had enough of uncle Fred, aunt Karen, or someone’s third cousin who always looks like they are judging everyone else. Then, someone will cheer the wrong team on TV, and the tensions start to rise. By around two o’clock, the 911Call Center’s phone system starts going crazy.

“There’s a family disturbance on Smith street with two adults in the middle of the road ready to take each other out.” “Some kid’s new B-B gun shot out the window in the house next door, and the old fuddy-duddy is raising hell.”

“That weird guy down the block has his hotrod fired up. The exhaust noise wakes the kids or grandpa up, trying to take a nap. If you don’t send someone out, I’ll take care of it myself.”

Or calls like one I can never forget. I was dispatched to a welfare check. A family was trying to pick up grandma for dinner, but she was not answering the door. Yes, on a Christmas Eve afternoon, I had to break into a house to find grandma would never make another Christmas dinner.

Death notification calls are no fun on any day. On a day like Christmas, there is no describing the feeling one gets giving news such as this to a family. Even though they feared the worst, the one confirming their worst fears watches their faces go from bewilderment to grief in a heartbeat.

From minor disturbances, domestic violence, homicides, and grandmas whose last breaths were drawn getting ready for Christmas dinner, holidays are not always grand. They are tragic for the families and miserable for the first responders who handle them.

Keep this thought in mind as you rush headlong into the rest of the holiday season. Fourteen hundred hours is not just a time in a twenty-four-hour day. It represents a real-time marker many police officers, firefighters, and medical personnel prepare for. At least, we did in my days on the job, and unless human nature changed greatly, it still is a time to watch.

More importantly, let “1400 hours” remind you that many folks in uniform will not celebrate holidays with their families. They will be working to see that you can celebrate with yours and keep you safe if someone else starts things up at 1400 hours.

If you pray, you might remember the people who put themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us in your prayers this time of the year. And it wouldn’t hurt to pray for the families around the country and the world whose holidays turned into a nightmare.

© 2022


Photo by Karolina Grabowska

About S. Eric Jackson

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This entry was posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Holidays, Law Enforcement, Police, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Christmas: 1400 Hours

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Very well written!

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