Never in my wildest dreams ever think that I would spend a Christmas Eve the way I have today.
I am 51% Finnish, and as such have always celebrated more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day. As we speak, my brothers and sisters, husband and son are driving up to my parents house to spend the afternoon hanging out, setting the table, eating a GYNORMOUS traditional Finnish meal (ham, salt herring, rhudabegas, etc.) before opening ALL the presents. Thankfully, now that we are grown, we have moved past the requisite and painful Story of Jesus reenactment. (I mean really, does ANYONE believe that a dachshund is a camel?)
That's right. We open all of our gifts on Christmas Eve...now that I am married, with a child of my own, I appreciate this family tradition even more. No scurrying from house to house on Christmas day.
I'm missing this year. For only the second time ever in my life. I am oddly okay with it; I feel much better than I ever expected. Maybe because today was so busy.
We worked all morning, then this afternoon attended the promotion ceremony for Major General Joe Anderson. He pinned on his second star today on the 3rd floor balcony of Al Faw Palace. It was beautiful, the temps were in the 70s with a slight breeze. The morning trash burn had ended and the skies were crystal clear. I stood there among my fellow service members, Iraqi generals and several Ambassadors and thought: how did I get here?
After dinner, three of my friends and I attended the Christmas Eve Candlelight service in the rotunda of the palace. It was really moving to sit there, among so many different sorts of people realizing that we were all probably thinking the same things. Family. Home. Love.
The acoustics in the rotunda are amazing and singing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! at the top of my lungs was certainly one of the highlights og my deployment so far.
I am so lucky that I have become friends with the three people in this photo with me. Each is remarkable in their own way and I couldn't have survived the first 2 months of this experience with out them. The only downer is that our 5th sidekick, Tom Gordy, wasn't with us...then again, he's home on R&R, so good for him!
I'd like to thank everyone who sent letters, cards and care packages during this holiday season. I shared most of everything with my shipmates here, and all of it was appreciated. Thank you for taking time out of your lives to think about me. The support has been unspeakably kind. Thank you.
I'll leave you with a funny Christmas card we received in our office this week. Funny doesn't even begin to describe it. This is the GOLD MEDAL World's Best Christmas Card Ever awardee of the year.
It sucks you have to be over there with all of the iraqui People over Christmas. I'm sorry that Sucks. But Look at the Bright Side Your helping your Country. Thank you.
Priceless...and 100% authentic.
Merry Christmas to you all....Much Love and I hope you all have a Joyous New Year.