Every year around this time, people generally lose focus. They’re lost in the aisles of gigantic and impersonal shopping centers, milling amongst the minutiae that seems to appear out of nowhere just in time for the seasonal rush or ensnared by the electronic glow of a computer monitor trying to score a few last minute deals.

People say, “we have to remember what the Holidays are all about”, and thats all well and good but I’m of the belief that the meaning of  Holidays hold is a strictly personal one. I was reminded of that when Bobbie and I finished a workout that I had done WAY back in 2012. (Go figure, another part in my life that can be traced back to a workout.) Halfway through, I thought back. It was exactly 3 years ago to the day. I was in Afghanistan and I was literally hours away from flying home for my 2 weeks rest and relaxation. It was the time of year that all other Christmas seasons have been compared to since, and in a lot of ways it remains the best holiday ever.

Id like to share with you a journal entry from that time and hopefully, something within my pages resonates with you and makes your holiday a little brighter:

“24 December 2012

Afghanistan->Kuwait->Iceland->New Hampshire

I’ll never forget the wonderful people of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

We arrived at about 9:30am on Christmas Eve. Weary, hungry and beat down from long hours sitting. We were herded off the plane like we have been throughout this entire journey. My main purpose for getting off was to use my cell phone so I could get in touch with friends (family didn’t know I was coming). That plan soon changed.

We rounded several corners and made our way through the labyrinth that is usually common in airports. Passing through security we dropped our customs slips off and continued on.

Then I heard it. The applause. The “thank you’s” and “Merry Christmas'”

Then I saw it. Hundreds of faces, young and old. Boy scouts, retired soldiers, sailors airmen and marines. Housewives, grandkids, moms and dads, aunts and uncles. I saw family, I saw home, I saw America through the eyes of everyone there. Handshake after handshake reaffirmed my strong belief that America is the greatest country on Earth. I am biased but through my biased eyes I saw people come together to welcome people they didn’t even know back from a land that most had not been to. It is a vested interest that brought them there. The interest in seeing America return to and keep her former glory.

Our arrival was not only greeted with smiling faces but also coffee, doughnuts, cakes and candy, Ice Cream, stuffed animals and lots of photos opportunities. They would have to wait, as I quickly disappeared outside in the cold to dry my eyes. My emotions were frayed from little sleep and cramped quarters. As soon as I got back inside, a freelance videographer interviewed me, ironic considering my job in the military. Pretty cool to be on the other side of the camera.

I chatted with Mike, a retired airman who got out in the year I was born. I spoke with a family who had been doing this for years, a college girl who did it with her sorority. It felt good to have such an open society, by that, I mean a society that really isn’t hindered by endless rules and regulations. Being in the military has dampened my emotions considerably and the emotions of others around me. Everyone was just a little more bummed out in Afghanistan.

We left New Hampshire about 45 minutes ago. The group had braved the cold and followed us outside and waved goodbye as we set out towards Atlanta, the American flag waving right alongside them”

I went on to surprise my family with my visit and shared many experiences with friends and family that I still cherish to this day.

I can’t wait to make it back to the USA.

Merry Christmas to all!