As I sit here in the land of sand that sees no festivity yet boasts to be the origin of both Pagan and Christian histories of which the latter it is the birth place of Christ. I look around at the faces of the Soldiers here with me sitting in the same predicament so far from home and in a war zone. I plan my Yule festivities as I would whether I was home or here as you can never let depression set in or it would ruin you. But really, how can one be depressed if they look inward and see the same sun, the shortest day of the year as it is anywhere you are in the Northern Hemisphere whether your in Europe, America, or half of the Middle East. I had the foresight to pack lights, oils and incense and other decorations for my Grove here to keep the spirits up and remind us of what season it is, we will keep the lights on and candles lit and drink hot cocoa and spiced cider and maybe some egg nog if the supply trucks made it through. We will discuss past Yule’s and rituals done and maybe even share letters and packages from home. Some will break out the Yule cd’s for music and Christmas cartoons and movies on DVD to watch. Our dining facility will throw on a somewhat elaborate meal to make it feel like home but you still have that nervous feeling as your sitting there eating of a sitting duck for a perilous rocket attack, mortar round or suicide bomber who wants to get you when you least suspect it. If your lucky you won’t be one of those selected for tower guard or some other joyous detail so I will probably make it a point to take candy canes or a thermos of hot cocoa to our soldiers on guard that day. Then the day after Christmas is just another day in Iraq and then is New Years, which is no different. Days drag and the only excitement is mail time, which is the highlight of everyone’s day. It doesn’t really snow in Iraq but maybe a drizzle so it never quite has that atmosphere but we will make do. It really brings to mind the “Night Before Christmas Military version which actually does bring a tear to my eye so I will close with that and let you know it describes how everyone of us feels when we do our duty here whether we agree with this war or not. I wish you all the best this Christmas and May you have a joyous New Year from Desert Moon Grove to you. BB.
Twas the night before Christmas,
he lived all alone,
in a one-bedroom home made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
and to see just whom in this house did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight did I see.
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land,
with medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sober thought came to mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary.
I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see.
The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in disorder,
not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realized the families that I saw this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.
The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, this is the life of my choice,
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
my life is my God, my country, my corps.”
The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, and continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
and we both shivered from the cold winter’s chill.
I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice soft and pure,
“Carry on Santa, It’s Christmas day and all is secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
“Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!”