25 December, 2006

How to Have a Merry Christmas

A deployed army chaplain wrote this Christmas Season:

I believe I am about to get the best Christmas present of my whole life. Here it is! I will never again be able to take Christmas for granted. I will never again be able to have even a small bit of “bah humbug.” I will never again be able to ignore the greatness of this event. After this Christmas every Christmas that is to follow will be a treasure.

I'm not deployed, but my Christmas has been significantly curtailed. I usually take great joy in finding the "right" present for everyone on my list. Yeah, it's somewhat stressful as I search for the "perfect" present on sale to fit my always meager budget or a gift I can make myself at small expense, but I usually succeed. And the joy comes when I'm sitting down and carefully wrapping the present, thinking about how the recipient is going to enjoy it or (if I splurged) be so surprised. In fact, my favorite part of Christmas (next to actually giving the present) is wrapping it.

But this year, no present wrapping, no careful selection of gifts, only a sense that I am not quite part of the holiday. I'm not facing the stress, frustration and fear of a deployment, but as the chaplain who will now value Christmas more, next Christmas I will feel very grateful to once again have even that meager budget to go Christmas shopping for my family and friends.

Here are others who have thoughts about Christmas when it's less than ideal...

Christmas Duty: Spending the Holidays in a War Zone
Christmas in Iraq: Major Bourland's Memories
Lessons in Gratitude: Major Bell's Memories
Christmas as an Airline Pilot: Major Bell Isn't Quite Home This Year

And for our sheepdogs around the world, who are making the best of things, too:

Yet time again Dogs surely prove,
When comes a wolfine danger,
The Sheepdogs will most swiftly move
To guard the lambs, the manger.

So here’s to Sheepdogs everywhere
At this Christmas time of year;
Just know the flock is with you there,
And we wish you Christmas cheer.

We wish we could advance the clock,
Cause truth is, Dogs, we miss you,
To the day that you’ll rejoin the flock,
When we’ll sheepishly then kiss you.

-Russ Vaughn

Merry Christmas one and all!