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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: It’s Christmas Day (in the present or living memory) (11/27/08)

TITLE: At Home In My Mind
By Ed Williams


I kept my sanity by letting my thoughts drift homeward. Nearby were pictures of my nieces, my hunting cabin and my pick-up truck. They gave me sanity too serving as a reminder why it was that kept doing this job.

People say you can never really go back home. Little by little things changed and life went on back home without me. It’s was sort of humbling at first. I remember being a bit insulted when things changed that I didn’t want changed. How could they tear down that the old school house? There were a lot of memories in there. The longer I was gone, the less like home, home really seemed.

Christmas is a time when we can really go home again. No matter what else changes about our town, our family or our perspective; our traditions and memories never do. Like the smells of peanut butter fudge and chocolate oatmeal cookies that my mom always made. She shipped me some over here last year. The package arrived in tact, but the contents didn’t last too long. It seems the guys around here seem to sniff out homemade goodies like a dog sniffs out a bone. I don’t think I even got any of the peanut butter fudge. We don’t mind sharing, it helps us escape this nightmare if even but for a little while.

Our Christmas routine was pretty much set by the time I came along. The last of four kids, you don’t get much say as to what the family does. You just sort of show up and everybody expects you to join in and accept their ways.

Grandma was probably behind it all. We always went to her house on Christmas Eve and everybody got to open one gift. For some odd reason we all sat and opened one gift at a time while everyone looked on. Even though Grandma isn’t with us anymore, nor Uncle Jake, we still carry on the tradition with just the few of us.
Christmas mornings, we dove in to the gifts ripping and tearing. Well, most of us did; one of my sisters always tried to make sure that the bows weren’t harmed and that the wrapping paper could be used again, while the rest of us rip and tear. Mom just smiled amid the chaos while putting the cinnamon rolls in the oven for Christmas breakfast.

After the hugs and thank you’s, dad read the Christmas story from the Gospels; a special narration that he had culled from the Bible himself. Most of the time we only pretended to listen; I’m glad he read it, because it really took root. I think about that a lot now. I know that there is a God. Not just because dad told me so, but because I run into Him over here everyday.

The local children have never had a Christmas tree…they don’t even know who Christ is. Last year our Chaplain arranged a project at a local orphanage. Seven hundred kids in all; we built them a library and took them gifts at Christmas. Maybe someone will take them a Christmas tree this year.
At home we always had a real one. They smell is so good. The ornaments on our tree tell a story. This one came from this person, or because of this event and every year when we decorate the tree, we’re reminded of those fun times. Dad always unraveled the lights while playing if favorite Christmas CD, he’d dance around like a fool while the music played and he sang, “La, la, la, la, la; la, la, la, la la; it’s Christmas. We’re paint’n the town. …Mmmm. ..and laughter all around...Merry Christmas…and an happy New Year…La la la la.”

Thud! Oh no! I’d gotten use to the mortar rounds exploding nearby, but this one just seemed too close. I hit the deck without even thinking; my face in the dirt, hands laced behind my head. One, two, three…bang. The sound of that blast pierces to the bone. I thought I’d be used to them by now.
Dirt rained around me. I could hear cries in the not too distant corner. “Ahhg! Ooh!” I lie there waiting. Will I soon feel pain? Can I move my legs? Will I be home for Christmas?

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This article has been read 519 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karlene Jacobsen12/05/08
It took me a little while to figure out your MC was a soldier. But, I'm not usually real swift either.
It's so sad to be separated from family for any reason.
What happened in the end? Was he ok?
Pamela Kliewer12/05/08
Whoa! What a twist at the end! I love the memories of this piece.