Subsunk over at Blackfive has posted a poem by Michael Marks :
A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS POEM
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,'
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?"
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.
And here's another for all the Military families out there who have a family member far from home this Christmas:
"There's no such thing as Santa," jeered the group of older boys
"there isn't any reindeer, any elves or magic toys."
"Oh yes there is" I cried aloud, my little fists curled tight,
"He's on his way with loaded sleigh to visit us tonight."
"I made the most important wish a boy could ever make
and I've been good for oh so long, been good for goodness sake.
"And though the tears burned in my eyes, I swore I wouldn't cry,
I didn't want to be a man, but promised dad I'd try.
That night was spent, just mom and me, like many nights before;
the house was never quite the same since dad went off to war.
We had our Christmas dinner and we sang O Holy Night,
We read about that meany Grinch and cheered when he did right.
But sadness showed within Mom's eyes as she stood by my bed,
and tucked the covers to my chin and kissed me on the head.
"Don't worry mom," I whispered "things are gonna be all right."
"We're sure to get our Christmas Wish when Santa comes tonight."
I tried my best to stay awake and listen to the roof,
for telltale ring of jingle bells or clop of reindeer hoof.
But snug and warm it wasn't long before I gave a yawn,
And would have gone to sleep but for the noise out on the lawn.
Then came the clump of heavy boots across the hardwood floor,
the tread somehow familiar like I'd heard it once before.
As quiet as a mouse I crept, my eyes flew wide to see
the silhouette that stood alone before the Christmas tree.
His frame was lean and fit, he had no belly big and round,
the heavy sack a duffle that he placed upon the ground.
He didn't wear a stitch of red, the uniform was green,
And not a single jingle bell, just medals could be seen.
And then the strongest arms on earth wrapped 'round and held me tight,
and I knew then that Santa really rode on Christmas night,
and Christmas Wishes did come true, just like I knew they had,
For Santa came on Christmas night and brought me home my dad.
May all your Christmas Wishes come true ~ and your loved one comes home safe and sound.
Be sure to go to Michael Mark's website for more poems (and bring the tissue box with you!)