It’s Christmas time again. It’s the time of year where we Americans lose our minds and go into a commercial feeding frenzy. We do this every year and by the time Christmas evening rolls around and the toys are put away and all the wrapping paper and empty boxes are ready to hauled out and the dinner table is cleared, we swear that THIS IS THE LAST YEAR WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS! Next year we’ll do it all over again.
In a few weeks the economic gurus will crunch numbers and announce if this holiday season was a good one or a bad one based on the amount of money each household in the country spends. As a country we’ll feel good or bad about ourselves based on the amount of money ‘Charitable’ organizations say they took in this year. Walmart, Target, Macy’s et alii will let their stock holders know if they can expect a healthy pay out on their stocks. If not, these corporations will look at America with a jaundiced eye and announce “Shame on you! You should have spent more!”
The rest of the world will go about their business. Babies will be born. Elderly people will pass away. People will continue to kill each other for whatever political or religious reason they kill each other during the rest of the year. Doctors and nurses will be on duty. Ambulance crews, firemen and policemen will be on duty.
Around the world, too, young Americans will be on ships, air bases, and Army posts. Someone will be manning the phones at CQ desks, battalion, brigade and division headquarters. GI’s posted close enough to home will get passes to make the drive home. All that can will have put in for leave and already left to go to the place that means the most to them: HOME.
As has been the case since the end of World War II, some won’t make it home because they’re stationed a continent away. Those that can’t get the leave time or can’t afford the plane ticket home for whatever reason’ or decide it’s not worth the aggravation will be around post. These days, a lot won’t make it because they’re hunkered down in a bunker somewhere out on the edge of nowhere wondering whether someone will decide to drop a mortar round or rocket their way. Or maybe fire a few rounds in their direction just for fun. Or maybe get a few hundred of their closest friends together to see if they can overrun a post or firebase. For a lot of our kids Christmas dinner will be whatever MRE they can get.
I was fortunate that I never had to spend Christmas worrying about getting shot at. My first Christmas dinner in the Army was in the chow hall in Fulda. It was no big deal. It was dinner. I hadn’t arrived in-country in time to sign up to spend Christmas with a German family. I did hear stories from the guys that did sign up and got to go with the German families that were kind enough to welcome foreign strangers into their homes for the holidays. For the most part, the American kids loved the experience. The barracks, while they may be home, are really no place to spend Christmas. It’s too easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. Continue reading