“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
– Joseph Campbell
As we all sit in the warmth, comfort and safety of our homes this holiday season, it’s easy to forget about the thousands of soldiers stationed half way across the world – making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms every one of us takes for granted daily.
I thought about this recently as my wife and I were decorating our home for Christmas – the sound of holiday tunes joyfully playing in the background; a comforting glow radiating from the fire place; a steaming cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows warming us from the winter chill. Beyond the simple pleasure holiday decorations seem to bring, we had each other to share in this festive time of year without uncertainties or worry.
But the life of a solider, especially around the holidays, is a difficult journey when the miles keep you away from the hearts, which bring your life such meaning. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for a soldier and their family to live in fear; to love from such an incredible distance.
This holiday season we no doubt will make lists comprised of gifts with little value. Almost as soon as they’re opened they’ll be forgotten about – which often happens when gifts have little meaning behind them. But for a solider and their family, the only gift they long for during the holidays is the ability to spend them together – to share in the joy, the laughter, the love and the spirit Christmas seems to bring out in all of us.
This holiday season remember how fortunate we are to live with the freedoms we assume will always be there. Most of all, say a little prayer this holiday for the soldiers who will spend the most wonderful time of the year continuing to protect us.
Happy Holidays may be a fitting conclusion. But I suspect a sincere “thank you” might be infinitely more appropriate.