On the Regarding War blog, soldiers, veterans, and journalists will share their stories from Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones. It will feature personal stories and opinions from those who have first-hand knowledge of past and current conflicts. Those at home directly affected by a family member serving in the military will also contribute. The blog is meant to be a place where ideas are exchanged and experiences are related in an effort to gain a better understanding of the realities and effects of war. Share your thoughts, raise a question, and join the conversation by leaving comments on the posts.
Editor's note: Each year, Kanani writes a Christmas letter to the men and women who serve overseas. She includes the letter with troop support packages she sends for the holidays.
I'm writing this right before I take a pile of boxes to the post office to be mailed to your platoon. I hope that this Christmas letter provides you a nice break, and that you feel somewhat closer to home. As you can imagine, we're busy here decorating, baking and trying to reach that last rush of mailing so this arrives to you on time. I wish I could say I'm writing this in a snow-encrusted winter wonderland, but instead, I'm wearing shorts and flip flops.
Unlike other parts of the country, here in California, we're enjoying a run of warm weather. The Santa Anas — winds from the desert — came blasting through, giving us a second chance to don summer clothes and to wear them along with our Santa Hats. Looking out the back windows of my home, I can see the mountains — the San Gabriels. The sky is blue, and the leaves have yet to turn color. Though it's Christmas, it feels more like summer. Palm trees, sparkling lights and for many — maybe a surf in the morning.
Hold on. I have to go to the door. You see, the cat cannot decide if he wants in or out. The dog is out barking at a squirrel. Oh, and now... the phone is ringing. On the way to let the cat out, bring the dog in, tell the telemarketer no thank you, I see a pile of bills to be paid. I know that many would issue a false complaint, but these are just temporary annoyances, the scuttle of life. I'm fortunate to have them. Why? Because we live without the tyranny and hardship of the type that the people of Afghanistan have put up with decades.
I've heard from soldiers like you — everything there is harder, most especially for the women and girls. I remember learning last year, a little girl was brought into an American Forward Surgical Team unit for burns she got carrying a boiling hot kettle into the fields to bring tea to her father and brother. She was only eight. Fortunately, she recovered. But still, I know the life she's gone back to is comparatively hard, and that her future lies in the world's ability to bring stability to the region so schools may flourish and she may be educated.
I guess that's the gist of my letter. I want to thank you for trying to pave a path for these people that makes their lives easier and gives them options. I'm acknowledging your sacrifice, and that of your family's. Your life is a balancing act, trying to straddle the war while maintaining ties to home. I know, it isn't easy. So, of all the presents I can give to you, I hope you will take my gratitude to heart, and keep it with you throughout your life.
Well, this is getting way too serious. Did you know that Santa is in charge of NORAD? Because of the Santa Tracker, most people assume NORAD controls Santa. But that's backwards. Santa started NORAD way back when, before tracking systems and gizmos were known. Truth! Santa is a combination of Special Forces, General Petraeus, Ranger, Marine, Lady Gaga, Nobel-prize winning physicist, secret squirrel, Commandant of the Marines, PTA President, Mother's Auxiliary and Navy Seal. He knows everything. That sleigh? Beats the pants off a stealth fighter, and if you want the truth on drones — those were failed sleigh units that proved less reliable than Rudolph's red nose for delivering presents. And so he gave them to the military. Now they drop coal on bad guys.
Anyway, here's my heartfelt appreciation for your service. Thank you for all that you do. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may peace be with you.
Writer and wife of an Army surgeon
Christmas Letter 2010 »
Troop Supporters: Neither in Lock Step Nor Complicated »
Veterans Day: The Breathtaking Beauty of Brotherhood »
The Sudden Leap From Teenager to Soldier: Spc. Gerald R. Jenkins »
The Woman Next to General Shelton: An Interview With Mrs. Carolyn Shelton »