Merry Christmas eve to all who celebrate the birth of Christ. Merry Christmas eve to all who celebrate the Toys R Us version of the day. Merry day before all the Chinese restaurants are empty for all who treat it like another day. Honestly, whether you actively celebrate the holiday or not, you get the impact. It's a big day. Some use it as an opportunity have 9 too many glasses of eggnog and have fun with family.
This is my 35th Christmas. It's a big one. It's the first one I'll spend truly with my Linda. We get to wake up under our own Christmas tree. Even while I was away and would come home, I'd stay with my folks so my Christmas morning was just like growing up. This one is different. It is a new tradition that my tiny family of 2 (and 3 furbabies) will begin. I feel like I get the best of all worlds to wake up in my very own home with my love AND then see my family too. I get everything.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about today.
Of the previous 34 Christmases in my life, I've woken up with my family for 33 of them. There was one year I wasn't there. I am lucky it was only one. For Christmas of 2006 I was 7,000 miles away (I'm actually guessing) in the Middle East as part of a long deployment. The desert has a knack of being blistering hot for most of the year and then freezing for a small part of it. It's actually never freezing, but for a couple of months it drops from 115 during the day to 85 and down in the 50s at night. The 30 degree contrast that happens suddenly can be a brutal switch.
It was that Christmas that I was limited to a few minutes on the phone per week, 4 week delivery for mail, the same food day in and day out, but, most importantly, none of the warmth of home - metaphorical warmth.
So many have missed more than the one. So many have been in much worse situations while missing it. I know I felt it that year, that's for sure. I'm so very thankful I'll never have to risk that again. But I think about those that don't have that luxury. Those with full families or families on the way. While I'm so excited for my first Christmas REALLY at home, I'd still trade with any one of these deployed dads in an instant.
Please think about them or pray for them or send good thoughts or do whatever it is you do. Remember, that goes for the guy who is from Florida and stationed in Montana, or the girl from California and stationed in Mississippi. Or the family stationed in Europe or Asia. They may not be deployed to a war zone but they aren't home.
No matter how many Christmases I see, I'll never forget the one that created a barely broken streak.