Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It's a perfect Christmas Eve. My husband and I exchanged gifts earlier this evening, we danced in the light of the Christmas tree, we played with our kitty and we cuddled. There's snow on the ground outside and more is coming down. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful time. But in the midst of our happiness, I can't help but think of those who aren't as fortunate as we are. My thoughts are drawn to those brave men and women who are far from their families this night. I just want to take a moment and say "thank you" to them. I want to tell them that I will never forget the sacrifices that they've made for me. I want to tell them that they'll always have my support and love and I'll do my best to honor them and this great country. And most importantly, I want to tell them that I'll never ever take them for granted.
So, thank you veterans who served in years past. And thank you current members of the military. You are frequently in my thoughts and prayers, and even on perfect nights like these, I still think about you and all that you've done. Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tonight

Tonight, I had the great privilege of being a part of something truly wonderful. My husband's family (yes, the oft-dreaded in-laws :)) is a very close-knit family (especially the ones who live here in Wichita). At the core, their religions beliefs are the same, and any doctrinal differences they have bring them closer together through challenge and debate rather than tearing them apart, as it does most families. They go to each other for advice, support and love.
Tonight, we had a Christmas Musical (or Talent Show?) and the Candlelight Service. The first part was singing and playing of various Christmas songs by various members of the family and friends, and the second part was a reading of the Christmas story along with lighting the Christmas candles. There are two reasons tonight was so wonderful. One, of course, was the sharing of our Christian belief in the birth and life of Jesus Christ. The other was the amazing talent that I saw and heard. It's quite obvious that musical talent runs strong in this family and it's truly sensational when they get together and perform.
I'm very blessed that this remarkable family has welcomed me as one of them and that I get to be an audience to the talent that flows from them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Standing Guard

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile."
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."