Christmas without our Soldier.

Christmas cards for the VA

It’s Christmas Eve and all is quiet around our house. We don’t normally do a lot this day, but this year it seems extra quiet.

My morning started with a message from our son in Afghanistan. I told him about the fund I started to supply needed items to the soldiers in his battalion. I have just about $1,000 in donations wither in hand or on their way here this week. He was thrilled to hear it. And when I say thrilled his comment was, “wow that is amazing.” High praise from a guy who hardly ever writes.

At noon I drove to the Veterans Administration hospital to drop off some Christmas cards to the  chaplains office. I left the cards a the office door after talking to another VA employee who was also hoping to find the chaplain in.

On my way to the elevator I saw a man with a cane at the information desk. He was asking if anyone was there. I walked over to let him know no one was at the desk and I told him I was a visitor but would try to help him if I could. He wanted to find a restroom. Fortunately a gentlemen approached who looked like he might work there and told us the direction to go in. After brief introductions we walked together down a long hallway with photos of members of the military who were killed in action lining the walls. Before too long we found the restrooms. He assured me he could find his way back down the hall.

My next stop was right before I left the building. Two employees of the VA were standing by a Christmas tree. I could tell they had a lively discussion going. The gentleman asked me to come over and join them. Apparently they were debated the cost of the tree and the ornaments. They wanted a neutral third-party to help settle their discussion. It was a fun little conversation about ornaments, the tree decorations and shopping for them.

I am home now. The afternoon mail brought with it a few more checks for the soldiers fund. I am floored by the generosity of people. Some of the money donated comes from long time friends. Much of it is coming from people I have never met. It looks like the donations may exceed $1,000 when all the checks come in. Just amazing.

This past week while I waited to get my hair cut I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman there waiting for his wife. We talked about family and Christmas. When I told him one of my children is in the Army and is deployed he told me he served in Korea. He then pulled out a $20 dollar bill and gave it to me. He asked me to send something to my son with the money. A lady who over heard the conversation came into the room and she gave me a $20 as well. After my hair cut the receptionist said she would like to help too and gave me a $10! With the cash they gave me I ordered 96 more rolls of Ultra Plush Quilted Northern for my sons platoon.

This Christmas is a bit different from all the others. It is hard to have a loved one away, but really tough when they are in a war zone. Knowing we are surrounded by caring people, even people we don’t really know, helps.

Merry Christmas!

Finding Joy in Toilet Paper

Never again will I look at toilet paper the same way.

My son sent me a private message on Saturday morning. I had missed his Skype call the day before. He doesn’t contact me often so I wasn’t sure what was up. It turns out the toilet paper I ordered through Amazon.com arrived. I sent 96 rolls, enough for each member of his platoon to have a package. He told me the guys were treating it like gold. They received a number of boxes this past week, but the toilet paper was, “the hit of everything.”

I told my son to let his guys know I’ve got their a$$es covered. I am pretty sure he rolled his eyes when read my comment.

This past Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, the time in Advent when Christians reflect on joy. How interesting that something we take for granted, like toilet paper, would bring such joy to a bunch of deployed soldiers. When I go to the grocery store this week and come home with toilet paper I guarantee you my family will not be overwhelmed with joy. It is something they just expect to have. The only time it would become a topic of conversation is if I had forgotten to pick some up and we ran out.

Right after I corresponded with my son I heard from the Family Readiness Group leader for the battalion. I had offered to help gather needed items for not only my son, but anyone in the battalion. It turns out quite a few of the soldiers are in need of socks, t-shirts, underwear, baby wipes, and hand warmers. They are in remote areas without access to laundry facilities. It is getting quite cold and they need these basics. Many of the guys have not had the opportunity to shower. With no laundry facilities our soldiers end up having to burn their dirty socks and underwear with the other trash.

Who among us rejoices over waking up getting dressed and going to work in clean clothes? I know I will look at my everyday routine a bit differently now. I vow to appreciate what I used to take for granted. I have a nice home, with heat, running water, and indoor plumbing. I sleep in a comfortable bed, and have clean clothes to wear each day. I even have a variety of clothes. We have food in the pantry and the refrigerator. If we run out of anything we can find the needed items at a variety of stores near by.

I will never look at a roll of toilet paper or a trip to the bathroom the same way again.

If you would like to help provide basics to some of our deployed soldiers from Fort Stewart, please email me: dorie@dorielgriggs.com