Christmas always brings memories of the past as I reflect on all the years that have passed. I remember:
- The little wooden ornaments I painted for my little girls that they now hang on their trees.
- The Christmas plate three of my grandchildren painted for me.
- The live Christmas tree my husband and I purchased the first year of my marriage and how our son planted that tree in the front yard. How quickly it grew and how sad it was when we drove by the house years later and saw the new owner had cut it down.
One special Christmas remains in my heart forever – Christmas of 1968.
My boyfriend had just completed basic training at the USMC base in San Diego, California and was coming home on Christmas Eve. He was traveling home by bus and his parents were going to call me as soon as he let them know he was at the bus station in St. Louis. They would then swing by and pick me up and we would go to get him.
It was late when the call finally came and I was so excited! After we picked him up at the bus station we hurried to his home where his eight brothers and sisters were anxiously waiting to see him.
By the time the family reunion was over it was early morning Christmas Day and Lonnie got the keys to the family car to drive me home. Sitting in the car before I went inside he asked me to marry him.
I said YES!
Sadly, the wedding would not be for a while as he was headed to Vietnam shortly after the New Year.
The holidays were both happy, but sad. So good to be together, to celebrate our engagement. So sad to face the months ahead of separation and danger for him. Would he survive the war? Would we really be married?
This Christmas I think of all the service men and women who are far from home protecting our country and of their family – parents, spouses, children — who will have an empty spot at their table.
If you know someone who is serving overseas, send them a card and let them know you are thinking of them. If you know a family who has a member who will be absent this year at the festivities, give them a call. Encourage them and share your appreciation of the sacrifice both they and their family member are making for us.
My story had a happy ending. After 13 months my Marine returned home and we were married.