The Christmas holidays are always the best time of the year to me. Everyone in my family gathers together to celebrate the presence of each other and the birth of Jesus Christ. This was different in the year of 2014. That December, it dawned on me that my brother-in-law would not be with my family on Christmas. Maybe it would have been different if he was just across the street, but he was across the world in Afghanistan.
My family took the absence of my brother-in-law, Tate, pretty hard. Candace, my sister who is Tate’s wife, was determined to continue to make him a part of our Christmas celebration. They FaceTimed each other daily when they could. This was their first year of marriage, so they tried to make the best of the situation. My sister began to look on Pinterest for ideas of what we could do for Tate that Christmas. After looking at ideas for a few days, we settled on a plan. We decided to mail a box to him filled with presents and things that he would need. My sister and I had to go to the post office to pick up a box that we could mail overseas. Once we got it, we decorated the inside. We glued red construction paper on the flaps and inside of the box. Then, we took green strips of paper and glued them in the center of each flap of the box to make it look like a wrapped Christmas present. A big green bow was then placed on a flap to top off the “present,” and we wrote “Merry Christmas, we love you!”
We then went to the store to get things that he might need. This included boxers, razors, baby wipes, deodorant, etc. Those were his essentials. Now we had to look for what he wanted. Tate told my sister he wanted a DVD player with movies. He also wanted a few books to read. We got him everything he wanted, since he did not ask for much. My aunts and uncles baked cookies and put them in tin cans for Tate. We also put a small Christmas tree in the box so Tate could have his own set up of what it would be like if he was home. We then put all the presents and necessities into the box and mailed it.
Once the box arrived in Afghanistan, Tate had to wait to open it. We wanted to see his reaction when he saw everything that we had got him. He then FaceTimed us so we could see him. Tate was so excited about everything he received. He badly needed razors and all his other necessities. He also got to see all of us here at home open our presents. Tate sent everyone Beats headphones. We were so surprised that he could send presents all the way from Afghanistan.
Being able to send presents to Tate and still have him be a part of our Christmas that year meant a lot. It was amazing that we were still able to include him in our Christmas celebration. In the beginning, I thought there was nothing we could do to make him a part of our holiday. It turned out we could do many things for Tate. Other families should never lose hope. There will always be a way to include our deployed loved ones in special holidays like Christmas. Do not let their absence stop you.
By Megan Butler, student reporter
Thomas County Central High School