Best time of the year

December 23, 2008 

Christmas is here again and that’s always good news. This has always been a special time for me whether I was on active duty or not. That Baby in a manger has a lot of special meaning for me. The memories and excitement that accompany the season also make for a special time wherever I’ve been.

When I was a kid I always expected a new set of toy soldiers of one form or another.

I was fortunate to have several boys in the neighborhood, so we could always get together and play army either with toy rifles or toy soldiers.

Whether inside or outside, no one could have matched our enthusiasm.

I know I drove my mother crazy. I eventually had enough toys soldiers that I would take over our small house. I’d order her to the kitchen to prepare my after-war feast and then establish theaters of operations in every room.

Land, sea, air, and space were my domains as my plastic heroes battled every enemy imaginable in the mind of a young boy who had too much imagination to be let loose on the world.

When my friends and I progressed to truly having more energy than brains we would use firecrackers or just matches to blow up or burn plastic vehicles in order to show more realistic damage.

The only time I can recall my mother crying during this craziness was when she sat on a model airplane I was building.

I was magnanimous and forgave her transgression, though I admit I was perplexed why she had entered my room and sat at my desk.

Nonetheless, she was my source of war funds (new toy soldiers, model tanks, etc.) and rations (hot dogs, banana pudding, ice cream – all of the major food groups), so I was careful anytime my reaction might threaten my actual survival.

When I was older and had children of my own, they managed to bring special memories as well.

For my second Christmas at Fort Bragg as a Second Lieutenant, I had duty on Christmas Eve. Arriving home in time for Shannon’s first Christmas was very special.

Next year, Shannon was walking. She made that day special by pulling down our tree as friends arrived for Marilyn’s first attempt to cook a turkey.

Even with the broken glass balls and Marilyn cooking the bird with the plastic bag of guts still inside, Christmas Day was still a good day.

My mind wanders all over the place when I think about Christmas and the great ones I’ve had.

I must admit that I had a wonderful childhood. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I didn’t have any competition (only child syndrome) and there was plenty of love to carry the day.

I’ve always enjoyed watching my daughters and other kids at this time of year. I also always think about all of those soldiers all over the world who are keeping us safe so we can sit back home and watch our children.

God bless those wonderful men and women who are on the frontier of freedom, risking themselves for us.

Colonel (retired) John House of Midland, GA.

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