Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Contemplation

Our holiday boxes are arriving to their final destinations around the world, and I want to share with you an email I received last week:

Hi Lori,

My name is Paria Sadighi and my fiance (SPC. A. Brown) is in Iraq
serving his first tour of duty. He called me today and said he received a
box from Toys for Troops and the pure excitement in his voice sent chills
through my body.

I think it's important that you know the story of this incredible young
man. Last year his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and he decided
that he owed her and his family a better life. He is the only boy in a
family of four women. With his back against the wall and a sick mom he
signed up with the Army. He is now serving in his first tour in Iraq and
his mother's cancer has spread to her bones, spinal chord, liver and
brain. I am the only person who sends him packages. The other
members of his family are busy taking care of their ailing mother.

I just graduated college, started a new job and am taking care of my
parents as they both lost their jobs. That being said, I'm unable to send
packages as often as I like to. My soldier is out there dealing with the
anxieties of war and the grief of the possibility of losing the only parent he's
ever known to cancer—without an appropriate good-bye.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because so often in life we feel we are completely on our own to burden every pain on shoulders that have been used beyond capacity. The gratitude in my heart cannot be justified by mere words. If I could record the cadence of joy in my soldier's voice, I would and I'd share it with the world, because I believe it is one that would make your kind of kindness even more contagious.

THANK YOU! ON BEHALF OF MYSELF, MY SOLDIER, HIS FAMILY, THANK YOU! For a brief moment he was able to move past his own private pain and know that someone (other than his fiance) is thinking of him, recognizing his sacrifice and taking the time to make him feel important.

Paria and Pvt. Brown at his graduation

I am home alone, with my son as I write this. I fixed him a ridiculous breakfast, we opened gifts, and we lounge around the house, now.

It is not unlike most other Christmas days we've spent, but I am acutely aware that I have never felt more thankful on any Christmas day in my life. I feel, oddly, both peace and heartache.

My thoughts and prayers are with SPC. Brown this morning. I think of his mother and sisters, and I know how they miss him. My heart is with Paria, also, missing her man, and, I know, most likely waiting for that phone call. I know firsthand what it's like to what for "that" phone call. And how it feels when it doesn't come in, because of the 3000 soldiers in the phone line in front of "your" soldier.

Another new friend has had her soldier son at home for the last 2 weeks...and had to put him on a plane back to Iraq yesterday, on Christmas Eve. (What is the army thinking?!!)

My heart is with spouses, parents, siblings, childrens, partners, and friends that hope to God that they're in my shoes next year at this time.

I am incredibly grateful.

Chili simmers in the crockpot, Brian's napping on the sofa, and I have about 4 hours of quiet time before the family arrives.

I will use and hour or so of it to write a letter to Pvt. Brown.

If you find yourself, today or later, with a few minutes, and would like to send him a letter also, hit me up. I'll be glad to send his address to you. I think he'll be glad to hear from you.

In the meantime, the best I can hope for all of you is that your Christmas is as merry as mine is, today.


  1. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Hey Lori,
    Apparently I am bad girl and he is not a PVT, he is a Specialist. Oops my bad!!!


  2. A promotion, huh! Yay, I went back and fixed it!

  3. Great letter. Thank you so much for posting it. I too shipped out on many a holiday and although they were sad times for me at least I knew my family was safe at home and I was doing something good for my country.

    Yesterday I watched many troops saying thank you for all that people like you do for them. I did watch one person who I wish they had not let speek because he said something negative about the gifts but that was only one out of many who I am sure loved them. It is nice to see the fruits of your labor go to a good cause.

    This year, I took on the Good Neighbor fund here where I work and collected a lot of presents for needy children. I donated them without ever knowing where they might end up. My daughter is going through a nasty divorce this christmas and is living in a home for battered women. (bad husband) I don't even know the location because it is kept secret for obvious reasons. Because of that, I wasn't able to send her or my grandchildren any presents. She called me on Christmas to tell me what a wonderful Christmas she was having. The kids awoke on Christmas morning to a multitude of presents that were donated by people who just wanted to give. You don't know how happy that made me feel. May you find as much happiness knowing that your work has never gone unnoticed.

  4. Glad you're having a great holiday with your son. Is it your birthday? If so, Happy Birthday!

  5. Joanne10:13 AM

    What a great email. It makes me think he got one of the boxes I packed. I can think that if I want can't I?
    It makes me sad to think that there are some of our brave military who don't have family and friends who can help during this time of their deployment.


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