One of my sons-in-law doesn’t like to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving. On the other hand, I like Christmas music so much that I carry a CD of Christmas music in my truck all year and play it periodically.
There is one song on that CD that I skip over: “I’ll be home for Christmas.” When I hear that song, it brings back memories of lonely Christmases spent away from home while I was in the Navy and especially the Christmas of 1959.
We were anchored off the south coast of France along with a carrier and three other destroyers. Each of the ships sent their small boats into port to ferry children from a local orphanage to the ships to enjoy a Christmas party with the sailors.
Married men with children of approximately the same age as the orphans were assigned to act as escorts for the children as they toured the ship. The rest of us stood by watchfully as the children climbed into the five-inch gun mounts and posed for picturess. We helped them with the steep ladders leading to the bridge where they had fun turning the ship’s wheel and enjoyed the view from on high.
Other men who had children made sure they sat close to the orphans during the party in the mess hall that followed the tour. After the cookies and ice cream, Christmas carols were sung and the presents handed out. Then the dreadful hour arrived when the children had to leave.
Once again you could tell those men who had children back home. The longing looks. The reaching out to touch a little hand. There were a lot of red eyes and blowing of noses as the motor whaleboat returned the children to the dock.
There will be quite a few men and women who will not be home for Christmas because they are busy keeping us safe. Whether they are in the military, police, fire or medical field, remember to say a prayer for those who keep us safe so that we can enjoy our Christmas at home.
Paul F. Janning, Wapakoneta