Hug Em Tight

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I always thought that as I got older the mystery of Christmas morning would dull and my anxiety would fade.  Negative.  It actually grows as the years go by that I don’t get my Eleiko Barbell Set.  Each year I anticipate it’s metallic glory sitting under the tree with all ten ball-bearings asking to swiftly be put to use.  Maybe this is the year…

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All kidding aside, we live a pretty sweet life in America.  Most of us spent today or this evening with our loved ones, wrapping those final gifts, singing Christmas music, telling stories we only ever tell on Christmas Eve, or fulfilling yearly traditions.  Today I have done all of those things.  However, this year is a little different.  This afternoon I got an email from a lifelong best friend who is currently serving our country in the Marine Corp stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  It was a reminder that my buddy, Heath, (2nd picture above) would not be joining us this year for Christmas dinner.  He has literally been to every Christmas at our house since I can remember.  He is a part of our family.  This year he joyfully and dutifully skips Christmas with his family to allow us to be with ours.  My brother (skinny kid on the right in the first picture) missed out on all the Christmas Eve festivities today as he is serving our country in the Navy.  He didn’t get to join me in trying to desperately wrap gifts for tomorrow morning.  We didn’t get to do the last minute shopping together.  He willingly and gladly skipped all that to make sure Americans across the country could enjoy those freedoms.  My wife’s cousin Adam is serving in the Marine Corps.  Our family friend Joey (pictured in first picture on the left) has to leave Christmas early tomorrow to head back to his Army base.  

These are just some of the men close to me who are serving our country to give us the freedom to enjoy Christmas time.  So many of you have the same people with the same stories.  So many Americans had to change their traditions this year because their father or husband was overseas.  So many Americans are putting less presents under the tree this year because their daughter or son is stationed in the Middle East.  So many of you are feeling the same emotions I find myself feeling tonight.

Here’s the kicker, none of them want us to be sad for them, none of them would ever ask for special treatment, and none of them want our pity.  Our men and women in the Armed Forces give of themselves with a sense of great calling, duty, and pride.  There is certainly a great analogy to Jesus Christ’s sacrificial giving and theirs.  

They love what they do and they joyfully serve our country knowing the freedoms they give to us must come at a price.  This Christmas I find myself grateful for these men and women and in particular the ones who are close to me.  My heart misses them but our country thanks them.  If your mother, father, son, daughter, friend etc is with you this Christmas.  Cherish them.  Hug em tight remembering that you have the freedom to enjoy Christmas because someone in the Armed Forces is giving you that freedom.

Tomorrow when you open your presents and eat your Christmas meal, remember our soldiers and raise a glass in their honor.

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