CHRISTMAS IN IRAQ... Last night before getting some much-need sleep, I took time to watch a DVD of my daughters’ Christmas Concert and Cazenovia’s Christmas Walk filmed by some dear people back home. The second half of the disc was filled with people from my community sending their holiday greetings and best wishes. It was like being in a parallel dimension for a few minutes… seeing people I know so well, engaging in something so beloved and so familiar. Our "world" here seems far removed. It’s hard to imagine that the old one still exists. I literally had to struggle to grasp the concept that what I was watching on the DVD only happened two weeks ago…while I was at Waleed along the Syrian border, somehow across time and space the people that I know and love were carrying out our familiar holiday rituals. I know in an abstract way that next year, I will be back to those same rituals… but it is very abstract.
The idea of Christmas itself is equally abstract. I only intend to acknowledge the religious component. I’ll go to church, pause to reflect on the meaning of the day, and then carry on. I don’t feel a strong desire to listen to Christmas music or watch “The Grinch.” These are only reminders of what is not. My sense is that many troops feel the same way. There is almost a desire to forget that you’re here on Christmas day, not be reminded of it. The only thought in my head will be that, far away from here, my family is enjoying Christmas in a safer and better place. Please remember and think of, but don’t feel sorry for the troops here. Accept their willing presence here as a gift of love for all of you back home and for a nation that they cherish more than their own comfort or safety.
What’s on the wish list of the Marines I talk to? Of course they wish to see their families as soon as possible. They also wish for the chance to finish their job here. They wish for a victory over the insurgents and for a just and honorable peace that does not cede the people of Iraq to the clutches of extremists and terrorists. Pray for that. And pray for the safe return of all our troops that they might enjoy a REAL Christmas next year with their families and loved ones. Blessings to you all and thank you for your tremendous support... Everywhere I go I see the care packages, cards and holiday treats you have been sending. MERRY CHRISTMAS!