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Merry Christmas, Dad

Submitted by on Friday, 24 December 2010 No Comment

My heart goes out to anyone who I think is going to have a less than spectacular Christmas.

I hate it for the soldiers I still see using the WiFi in Starbucks on post. I fear that means they either have no where to go or can’t afford to get there.

I hate it for a friend living with a very angry person for whom belligerence knows no holiday.

Most of all, I hate it for one person in particular. A person who’s 10,000 miles away from his family so that his family can have a better life.

My husband’s never been away from family at Christmas. I, at least, have prior experience of a long, lonely shift shivering at an office where Scrooge must have been in charge of the thermostat. The difference: If I’d screwed up that day, the boss might have acted like it was a life or death matter. If my husband screws up, it could be for real.

Just as at Thanksgiving, I’m sure the dining halls will be decked out and the food will be impressive and plentiful. They have a white elephant gift exchange planned, and they might even get another visit from Santa. “We’re all trying to make the best of it. We’re all in the same situation,” he said this morning.

All of that helps, but in the end you have to be alone with your thoughts at some point. After spending a scant five months in the past two years with your family, you can keep singing “the sun’ll come out tomorrow” for only so long before it starts to sound hollow.

“I keep thinking about last year,” he said.

“Think of next year instead,” I replied. I need to take my own advice.

Sometimes I don’t, and it all makes me angry, which is almost a relief from the going-through-the-motions numbness that occasionally sets in. I get mad at the pat solutions across the political spectrum, at those on the right who want to bomb Afghanistan off the map but lack the courage to join in and at those on the left who profess to respect the military but vow to kidnap their kids to Canada rather than see them in the service.

Still, when two kids are counting on you there’s not a lot of free time for fury or lethargy. So you drag yourself off the couch and wrap presents or bake cookies. Most of the time it helps.

The kids, after all, are why their father’s in Afghanistan. “I’m fighting so you won’t have to,” he tells them. I wonder if our grandfathers told our parents the same thing. Probably not. They were drafted. Whether they fought really wasn’t a multiple choice question.

Later today, I’ll run out for the Christmas pizza but also for some things for Dad. The guys want to leave up his stocking until he comes home, so it would never do for it to remain empty.

Yes, the sun will come out tomorrow. We’re still not sure exactly when tomorrow will be, but we do know that it’s getting closer. And we also know that next Christmas will be much better. We’re counting on it.

Merry Christmas, Dad, and thank you for the warm, safe home that you make possible.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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