Seeing the fresh scrubbed faces in military garb on television sending Christmas greetings to their folks back home is no longer a novelty. It has become such a part of the holiday season we give it no more than a cursory glance. We might think for a few seconds how great it is that the station makes it possible for these soldiers to send their greetings, and we might reflect for a moment about how hard it must be to spend Christmas so far from home. But then the program comes back on and we have instantly forgotten the faces of those around the globe putting their lives on the line for our security.
Unless the face is a member of our own family.
The mother of the soldier doesn't see a well-disciplined man in his pressed uniform; she sees the baby who nursed at her breast. She sees the little boy who sat by her side while she read Goodnight Moon for the hundredth time. She sees the boy who played basketball in the driveway or hit a home run in baseball. She sees a Boy Scout. She sees a young man who took a job after school so he could buy his own truck.
Siblings see the brother they grew up with. They remember when the plastic toy soldiers gave way to real soldiering and the G.I. Joe uniforms made way for real battle fatigues.
Those greetings are more than routine holiday messages. They are lifelines connecting loved ones across the miles which reassure us these brave young men and women are OK for now.
Life is short and fragile. Its value is in the giving away. These young men and women offer for us their finest gift -- themselves -- in dedicated service. At Christmas, when we remember the gift of God's own son, sent to earth to give His life that we might have eternal life, we also give thanks for those who willingly give their lives for us.