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My Christmas Wishes
By Bob Robinson

I had just received a letter from Jim Neely wishing my friends and family a Merry Christmas from Vietnam. I knew that was impossible; I was dreaming… my Texas A&M buddy lost his life Aug. 23, 1968. I pictured dad with his cigar, sitting back in his armchair, a half smile on his face. Every once in a while I’d pause from tearing open presents and glance at him.

I think I saw him wink once, but I’m not sure. It was a dream, after all… And as it always did, it reminded me of another dream I had many years ago…

It was about a soldier, standing on a hilltop. The hill was barren and scarred from centuries of fighting. He stood tired, but tall, amidst rubble and smoke. For a fleeting instant, in the distance behind him, I saw three crosses. They were quickly enveloped by plumes of black smoke.

As I came closer, he looked at me.

“All is secure, sir,” he said.

Then he handed me a key and pointed to the door he was guarding. I opened it.

There was a glow of light from the entry. It splashed upon the face of the guard. I could see his pain and injury, but also his pride in the knowledge of a job well done. He smiled as he motioned me on.

I stepped inside and closed the door behind me.

Below was an immense valley. It was green with foliage, penetrated by streams and waterfalls. The sun showered it with light, but was not harsh. Its rays were warm, comforting. There was a path leading off to the right. I followed it.

It was a difficult path. I could see it had not been used very often. I almost lost my way many times... once, a deer ran out in front of me and through some undergrowth. Another time it was a raccoon. A squirrel. Each time I was in danger of taking the wrong turn. Each time a creature of the forest kept me on the path.

Eventually the path became clearer. More traveled.

As I rounded a turn, I saw a man on one knee in front of a headstone. He was placing flowers in front of it. Concerned for his privacy, I stopped at a distance and waited. Soon, he stood up, smiled at me, then walked off in another direction.

I knew him. His craggy face was etched with nearly two centuries of sorrow. His beard was white, but I remembered him from my history books. I went to the headstone and looked down upon it. Behind the arrangement of flowers, the epitaph said...

“Slavery died Jan. 1, 1863. May it rest in peace.”

I remember thinking “if only it were true.”

I continued down the path and almost bumped into another man. I had never met him but I remembered that he’d had a dream. He smiled and nodded, then disappeared into the foliage.

The headstone he was leaving was more recent. It said...

“Prejudice died Aug. 28, 1963. May it rest in peace.”

I remember thinking “if only it were true.”

I started to continue my journey, only to discover the path was gone. I was in a cemetery. There were headstones such as I’d never seen before...

“Terrorism died July 13...”

“Persecution died Feb. 22...”

“War died April 18...”

“Man’s inhumanity against man died...”

Hundreds of headstones. All with similar messages.

I remember thinking “if only it were true.”

“It could be true, sir,” the voice said. “It is what we fight for.”

Standing behind me was the soldier who had given me the key.

“We were given that key more than 2,000 years ago,” he said. “It is what I sacrifice for. Pres. Lincoln. Rev. King. My buddies. Me.

“This valley and all its beauty can still be ours, sir. But it takes all of us. We can’t do it alone. That was His message to us... don’t let His sacrifice, or mine, be in vain.”

Suddenly we were back on the hill. I could hear explosions in the distance. See the pain on the soldier’s face.

“Sleep well tonight, sir,” he said, finally. “Be at peace with your loved ones. I have tonight’s watch.”

I had fallen asleep again; I woke up, shivering, the dream vivid… etched in my mind. I found myself wondering if we have lost the meaning of Christmas. I know it is difficult sometimes… Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, budget overload, buy this… buy that...

At this instant, however, the dream, the soldier, my thoughts and wishes could not be any clearer…

Whether you consider Him our Savior or simply a truly great Man, Jesus did exist. We may not know exactly when He was born, but have chosen this season to honor His birth, and His sacrifice for us. Remember what He stood for… a love for humanity unmatched in history.

Remember those who followed in His footsteps, making the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be free to celebrate His Birth – or this season – in any manner we wish.

And finally, remember, nurture and protect those He loved more than anything, our most precious asset…

Our children.

God Bless and have a wonderful Christmas Holiday.


 
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