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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Iíll be home for ChristmasÖ

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(12/2015) It was warm and comfortable inside, a sharp contrast to the icy rain and bone-chilling winds that buffeted the small car. The woman inside hummed softly to the song on the radio, careful not to wake her passenger. She looked in her rearview mirror and smiled at the small five-year old boy, asleep in the back. He was slumped in his car-seat, a green tissue paper crown from a Christmas cracker falling over his eyes, all tuckered out from a day of excitement.

It was, overall, an almost-perfect Christmas Eve. Everyone was smiling and laughing, eating copious amounts of food from the table that was practically groaning under the weight of turkey and ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes, green beans and fresh bread. The house seemed to radiate warmth and light and smelled like pine, apples, and turkey. The tree was huge and over-laden with sparkling lights and ornaments. Everyone was there, enjoying each otherís company and basking in the warm glow that the season seems to exude. Well, almost everyone. There was a place set at the table that lay empty, waiting for an occupant that would not be coming.

She frowned slightly at the memory, he was far away from home, doing God knows what, and though she knew it was silly, all she could think about was that he would have Christmas without a tree, or stockings and be far away from family. She knew it was going to be difficult tomorrow. Being woken by an eager five-year old who wants, more than anything, to know where his daddy is and wondering why he is not there on Christmas. She sighed, as she pulled into the driveway, not realizing it had started snowing. She sat it the car for a few moments, thinking about the look on her sonís face when he finds out his father could not come home for Christmas. She thought of what she would have to say: Well, daddy is far away, you see? He is protecting a lot of people. He loves you so much, darling, and he will come home, just not today.

She blinked away the moisture gathering in her eyes and stepped out of the car. She unbuckled her son, who was still out like a light. Adjusting the tissue paper crown so it would not fall, she picked him up, carried him inside the house, and got him ready for bed. He woke up just enough to ask for a story and she obliged him. He fell asleep sometime after the narratorís eyes, full of wonder, saw the eight tiny reindeer.

She finished the story and silently left his room. She started to head towards her room when the lights on the Christmas tree distracted her, and she went to turn them off before going to bed. Then what before her wondering eyes should appear, but a deep green duffle bag under the lowest boughs of the tree. A soft cough came from behind her and she turned to face the beatific smile and warm eyes that she missed so much. "I told you Iíd be home for ChristmasÖ"

Merry Christmas! Itís the time of year for family and friends to gather round the yule log and relish in each otherís company. It is also the season for people to start looking outside of themselves to help other and to bring a bit more light into the world. Our troops, both at home and overseas, protect our country every day, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

There are many foundations that help our troops and their families. Wounded Warriors, for instance, is an organization, founded in 2003, that helps to provide aid and encouragement to certain members of the service who have experienced physical or mental injuries, illness, or wounds. They are always looking for volunteers to help and donations.

The Red Cross is a well-known organization that works closely with Veterans Administration (VA) and military hospitals nationwide. They provide relief to service women and men across the country and those overseas.

Despite the somewhat Hallmark ending to my story, the truth is, not everyone can come home for the holidays. Because of this, many foundations have taken it upon themselves to donate their time to writing Christmas cards or assembling care-packages that provide a bit of home to soldiers that are so far away from theirs. Soldierís Angels is one such organization. They send Christmas cards to soldiers overseas and aid to military families through their "Adopt-a-family" program, which allows people to sponsor a family to help them afford Christmas celebrations from a holiday dinner to presents for the children. Soldierís Angels also bring assistance to homeless veterans in the community through their "No-Sew Blanket Drive" that provides warm blankets to veterans during these cold winter days.

I understand that this season is filled with worries. You have gifts to buy, trees to find, homes to decorate, in-laws to handle, and so many other things that need to be checked off your seemingly endless holiday to-do list. Nevertheless, I ask you to take the time to help those who have given so much for our safety and our country and those that will not be coming home for Christmas. I am not asking you to ignore your "to-do" list and volunteer all your time or donate hundreds of dollars. I am asking that you simply do what you can to help those who proudly serve (or have served) our country. Little is left to be say, except, maybe, Merry Christmas!

Read other articles by Sarah Muir