I’m writing today and celebrating. This is an incredibly special Christmas for my family. My husband is finally home from Iraq and for the last time. The war is over, he won’t be going back.
My kids have been little the first couple of Christmases my husband was gone. I doubt they remember the Christmas that he and I were both deployed. I remember it well. There were little Christmas lights hanging in the TOC (tactical operations center) and I distinctly remember a few lonely ornaments hanging on a tree outside the CHU (containerized housing unit) I was fortunate to share with my husband.
Funny, I remember the green and the particular shade of blue of those ornaments. They stayed there the rest of the year but I remember seeing them that first morning when I woke up in Mosul and realized I would not be spending Christmas with my children. It’s odd how major holidays are just another day when you’re deployed, except for the food served in the DFAC (dining facility).
I have to confess, I love playing Santa but what’s weird is that I love playing Santa for complete strangers. I love buying gifts for the Angel Tree or donating a toy to Toys For Tots. I think maybe it feels good knowing that someone gets to have something that they might not otherwise have. Maybe it’s a selfish reason for enjoying it, but I do.
Christmas this year was made simpler by the fact that we did not buy gifts for the adults in either side of the family. We did a gift exchange on my husband’s side and on my side, we only bought for the kids. I enjoy that so much more than spending hours trying to decide what to buy.
Christmas this year has also spawned a novella. For those of you who are dying to find out what happens with the secondary characters in BECAUSE OF YOU, Trent and Laura, you’ll get to see them experience their own Christmas miracle. It will take a miracle for them to work through the miles of separation that have kept them apart. Trent and Laura’s story is one that most military families have experienced in some degree or another. How do you reconnect to children who have grown into different people while you were gone? How do you help a spouse around the house when he or she has been doing everything since you were gone?
Christmas this year, though, is extra special. My husband is coming home just like so many other husbands and wives, sons and daughters. He’s coming home to a 12 year old dog who is eagerly awaiting him. A stupid little black dog who probably won’t recognize him. The goofy yellow lab who we can tell is not pure breed because she does recognize him when he comes home. A black cat, his arch nemesis, who will no doubt filet his arm open inside of ten minutes when they start fighting. And a little grey cat, who just wants to knit his belly and remind him that he’s fluffy in some places too.
But it’s my daughters who get the best Christmas this year. They get their daddy back. For the first and last time, they saw him walking across the parade field. I never took them before because they were too little but this time, I wanted them to remember it. They got to feel the crowd as it surges forward, each person looking for their soldier in the crowd. They got their daddy back. He made it. Four combat tours. Hundreds of convoys.
I get my Soldier back. And that, folks, is the greatest Christmas gift, I could get.
In the spirit of Christmas, I’d like to give away a Nook or a Kindle one last time before the end of the year.
Leave a comment today and tomorrow and tell me why this Christmas is special to you. I’ll pick a winner on Tuesday!