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17 days: Christmas far from home

December 10, 2014

Today we went with the Boy Wonder on a college tour as he is narrowing down his choices for next year. Door decorations on one door stopped me in my tracks. In bold black and gold lettering, the suite door read, “MY AIRMEN IS CURRENTLY DEPLOYED!” Below the lettering was a small chalkboard with “148 days left” written in beautiful penmanship. The village (which is the name for the building) was absolutely stunning, but those holiday decorations made my eyes fill with tears.

During my blog’s long hiatus, I was filling in as a long-term substitute teacher at a school I hold dear for a teacher whose family had recently gone through a trial eerily similar to the one my family has walked. My heart was to help in any way I knew how – even if it meant I had to stretch. And stretch I did as I was teaching Social Studies (which I love but which is not my area of expertise). Science and mathematics – like riding a bike, I tell you.

In my first hour of the day, the last unit we studied was World War I. On a few of my final days, we reenacted the Christmas Truce of 1914 when German and British soldiers not only held a cease-fire for 24 hours, but also celebrated Christmas together by entering No Man’s Land. They exchanged rations as presents and sang carols in native tongues as well as collaboratively in Latin. So far from home, yet a piece of home was present in their hearts in the humanity and generosity of the moment.

From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches"

From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

A year ago, my family was “support staff” to our dear friends while their Captain was mobilized far from home. We prayed, encouraged, called, texted, e-mailed, visited, and prayed some more while our soldier was away from his family. I don’t know if it was his recent and safe return home that made my eyes a little more weepy when I saw this door or if it was the reminder of so many families who too were paying an often forgotten sacrifice to keep my family free and safe. The families on the home front pick up the pieces left by the absence of a dear one while serving on active duty while all the time hoping that their loved ones are safe. Life doesn’t stop back at home.

Families soldier on.

It is not easy. It is not fun. It is dang hard work. It is emotionally exhausting. It is physically, mentally, and sometimes spiritually draining.

There is no other choice except to keep living.

The families of our military service men and women do IT every day – without recognition, without fanfare, and without hoopla.

This Christmas, I am asking each of you to do something kind – boldly, bravely and courageously, for a military family. If you don’t know of one personally, I am including the link for Holiday Mail for Heroes (which is now completely organized by the Red Cross).  If you think that a card doesn’t matter, I personally invite you to my house for a glass a sweet tea and a trip down memory lane with my husband, who for over twenty years has saved every (I mean EVERY) card, letter, or drawing he received when he was on active duty during Desert Storm.

Be Brave! I know me and my peeps will be!

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