(Orignally written Dec. 9th, 2011) We’ve just finished eating lunch in Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport food court at Concourse E. We’re waiting for our flight which won’t be available until after four. It’s almost two thirty. There are servicemen mixed liberally into the crowds of folks streaming by, flying to different destinations all over the world but all dressed like they’re going to the Middle East. Military uniforms always tell you what war, what époque they are from. The ones worn right now don’t look like the ones in the Gulf War.
Listening to all the different sounds surrounding me; overhead announcements, an automatic piano playing the Carpenters “Close To You” right now, voices murmuring high and low, laughter, and now and then above it all the easy chatter/banter of three servicemen sitting here with me on their own laptops, checking out whatever they are checking out while waiting to fly to Kuwait. What a way to spend Christmas. Their names are Thompson, Whetstone and Hughes. They all look fit and ready as if well rested. I wonder how they’ll look coming back. They range in age from I’d say early thirties to young twenties. They said they feel lucky to not be going to Afghanistan, unlike the soldier we passed in the hall on the way here. When I thanked that soldier for his service and wished him a Merry Christmas he said he wasn’t sure what kind of Christmas he would have in Afghanistan. I felt for him and his family. He was very young. I hope he comes home safe and sound to the ones he loves and who love him.
On the other hand, I have to be happy I’m going to France for Christmas. My first French Christmas ever, my husband’s first one since he married me (28 years ago!). I wonder how it will be? In laws, seeing my daughter and all the wonderful friends we have there, that part I know I will love, but I’ve never had a Christmas in another country before. I’m looking forward to experiencing the ‘local’ customs, like, I’ve been told, oysters and champagne on Christmas Eve. I’ll skip the oysters but enjoy the champagne, and I’ll be sure to raise a toast to all these servicemen around me wherever they will be on that day. Big thank you's to Thompson, Whetstone and Hughes for letting me take their photo and permission to post it on my blog! I wish all three of you (and the other one too!) the best of the season and thank you again for your service to our country. Come home safely!