When you sit down and talk with a child about the best and worst parts of Christmas, their answers are usually quite predictable. A child will likely discuss how they’ve tried to be very good and end up on Santa’s nice list, but that his or her brother or sister will probably be on the naughty list.
They’ll talk about Christmas carols and making cookies for Santa and may even have their own personal stories about an encounter with Santa. If religion plays a role in their life, the child, depending on his or her age, may talk about baby Jesus, the manger and Mary and Joseph. They can’t wait to see what will be in their stockings. Christmas conversations, though joyous, are often predictable. Many find this predictability comforting.
It proves there is stability in a child’s life. Getting the chance to see Christmas through the eyes of a child is nostalgic. It can bring an adult back to their own Christmas memories and give one the opportunity to relive tiptoeing down the stairs in hopes of catching Santa in the act…only to see that the presents are already under the tree, the milk is nearly gone, and there are nothing but crumbs left on the plate. Man, Santa was always so quick…I don’t think anyone will ever be able to catch him in the act.
While children’s tales of the holidays are predictable, I couldn’t help but wonder…would a military child’s answers be just as predictable? Surely, they couldn’t be. Military children face far more hurdles than the average American child; they’re forced to say goodbye to parents for months at a time; they move away from friends more than most child would prefer; in the worst cases, they lose parents or face the harsh reality of war when a parent gets severely injured. Military children must see Christmas through their own special set of lenses.
Or do they? I sought out to find several military children ranging in age from two to eighteen and their answers truly surprised me. Thirteen-year-old Victor M. Jurkiewicz is the son of a United States Marine and he admitted one of the most difficult times for him was being apart from his father, “The Christmas when my dad was deployed,” was the toughest he said. “The fact that I couldn’t be with him made it hard.”
But it didn’t ruin the holidays, instead it just made each holiday his family could spend together more special. If he had just one Christmas wish it wouldn’t be for a specific toy or new game; his wish isn’t tangible. “My Christmas wish is to spend time with my family in the snow, because I rarely see them and there’s usually no snow around where I live,” Victor said.