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I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.*

I always get a little teary when I hear this song, thinking of those who don’t get to spend this most wonderful time of year with their loved ones. It reminds me of the years when my two younger brothers were serving in the armed forces, one stationed in Scotland in the Marines and the
other in England in the Air Force. I ached to be with them.

I longed for Anthony’s sense of humor, teasing, and wisdom beyond his years. I missed Austin’s willingness to listen and encourage. He saw the best in everyone. Mostly I just missed being “with” them. Whatever we did, it was more fun with them there. At Christmastime their absence seemed more profound.

It wasn’t easy for them either. I asked them about their holidays away from home. Both recalled the one Christmas they got to be together.

Anthony said:

My Christmases away from home passed without much notice because my specialty in communications was something that we manned 24/7 and one day looked pretty much like another. “Home” was a long way away. But my last Christmas in Scotland was a little different. I had been overseas for my third consecutive year having been in touch with family only by letters and occasional phone calls. That year my brother was stationed in England, and he was able to visit me and my new family. (I had gotten married and Kerry and I had a baby boy, Brian. My brother was the first one to see him.) That was a very memorable Christmas for both Kerry and me. I’m sure my mother was looking forward to meeting Brian, but that didn’t happen until he was a year old. I imagine it was tough for her to have a grandson far away on his first Christmas.

Stationed overseas, brothers Austin (on left) and Anthony reunite in Scotland during Christmas of 1986.

Stationed overseas, brothers Austin (on left) and Anthony reunite in Scotland during Christmas of 1986.

For Austin, the dreary, rainy weather overseas in England, lack of snow, and being so far from family made Christmas difficult. He said:

The calls from home during the family Christmas get-togethers were very uplifting, and I enjoyed speaking briefly to each family member. My roommate and I would play Christmas music and brighten the room with wall-to-wall decorations. Church services and programs were awesome. Yet I can’t even describe in words how excited I was to go visit my brother who was stationed in Scotland. We had always been close and I was overjoyed to see him.

Mary and Joseph too were far away from family and friends on their first Christmas. Mary gave birth to her firstborn child in a strange town without her mother’s reassuring presence. Joseph, now the protector of a newborn, was unable to ask his own dad for advice. Neither could share their joy with loved ones. Yet the little one they cradled in their arms bore a message: God Himself chose to be “with” us at Christmas, throughout the year, and always.

*Songwriters: Buck Ram / Kim Gannon / Walter Kent
I’ll Be Home for Christmas lyrics © Gannon & Kent Music Co., Carlin America Inc.

About The Author

Andrea Johnson
Managing Editor

In her spare time you will most likely find Andrea Johnson with family or friends, or outdoors hiking. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with four children and five grandchildren.