by Dan Peschong
Over the years I’ve had wonderful and not so wonderful memories at Christmas. I remember being so happy getting an electric train when I was 5 years old and very few things will match the extremely rare Christmas Eve snow in Sugar Land in 2004 – which had us tossing snowballs while dressed to the hilt for evening services.
On the other end of the spectrum was the year when I woke up in the early morning of Christmas Eve with a terrible stomach virus that then swept through the house. After many weeks of choir practices I spent Midnight Mass flat on my back – nauseous and disappointed. The worst Christmas was probably a few months after my father passed away in 2001 – a very empty and haunting time.
But the most memorable Christmas for me was the one I spent without my family in 2003. I had taken an engineering assignment in Iraq right after the quick war ended in May – unfortunately the guerilla war and terrorist attacks went on and on. Christmas fell right in the middle of one of my 12 week on shifts. A large contingent of technical workers were living in Kuwait City at that time because our camp in Iraq was not complete and we would “commute” into south Iraq and work in the Rumaliah oil fields every day.
We were working 7 days a week but were going to be off on Christmas Day. Because we were on per diem – the company did not put together a party for that day off as they would have to show it as taxable income. So, I led an effort to put together a small Christmas party for those stuck away from home. It turned out to be a fun event – we collected some donations and went to the local supermarket and brought in some staples – sandwiches, meats, cheeses, chips and treats. But as Christmas day developed, the party goers showed up with surprises – the Indian guys bringing cultural goodies like samosas, the Chinese folks bringing in egg rolls etc.
We had a lovely meal and since this was done in a mini-conference room that doubled as our entertainment room – we had a TV with a DVD player. My wife had sent me some of my favorite holiday movies in a wonderful care package before the party. One of the most memorable things in my life, was sitting with men and women from around the world and seeing their reaction to watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Patrick Stewart in “A Christmas Carol” for the first time. It was an experience I will never forget and will carry me to the end of my days and holidays.
So, any Christmas memories anyone else would like to share with their blogging friends?