Military Tales: The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t

I haven’t written a good military tale in a while, but this particular military tale is one that brings tears to my eyes every time I tell it to some one face-to-face. I decided that it was about time to share it with the web. To give you a bit of background on this story, it was Christmas of 2003 and it was the first year I became a single mom. I was going through my divorce at the time and my finances were horrible. I’d rather not go into the details, but I can assure you that the financial hole I was in wasn’t due to carelessness. I was cutting coupons, receiving WIC benefits and going through a very nasty divorce on a salary of about $1200 USD a month in the San Francisco Bay area.

During this period of Airman Tia’s life, she was far away from her family and the majority of her friends were people she smoked with outside at the military hospital on break. For those non-smokers, smoke breaks are a great bonding exercise. Lots of topics would come up and I got to know some really great people and folks who could share common woes. During this particular Christmas I was feeling rather lonely and stressed. It was going to be my first Christmas as a single mother and the only person I had in my life was my 2 year old son (some of you know him as @the_clone).

Unfortunately, due to my financial woes, I couldn’t afford Christmas at all. I had reserved myself to skipping it entirely because I figured my kid wouldn’t hate me too much at 2 for not getting anything for Christmas. I didn’t make a very big deal about it either, I felt pretty horrible deep down about it but logically I knew it wouldn’t be the end and I wasn’t terribly religious any how. When asked by my peers at the smoking patio about what I’d end up doing for my son for Christmas, I’d just say it’d be a light one because money was tight. This was accepted mostly, until one particular individual pieced together a bit more of what was going on from other stories and had gotten me to admit that I was a bit more stretched than I let on, the reason I was in a financial bind and my exact christmas plans. I wasn’t really close to this person but we spoke regularly during smoke breaks.

Skip forward to Christmas eve, December 24th. I was sitting at home alone with my son because I had been talked out of working by my boss and there was a knock on the door. I didn’t really get visitors often so I was pretty reluctant to answer the door, thinking it would be some one asking me to come to work after all. When I finally opened the door, there was no one there. I gave a look around and eventually my eyes fell upon the ground, where in front of me was a large box filled to the brim with wrapped gifts (I’d estimate at least 10 – 15) all addressed to my son from Santa.

I maintained my composure as I offered a confused smile to my porch light and pulled the box inside and sobbed. The next morning, my son destroyed the wrapping and there was a lot of great toys for a little boy of his age to play with. To this day, not a single person has claimed responsibility for that charitable act. I know it had to be my military coworkers from the smoking patio, folks I wasn’t terribly close to but because the military was a family, they took care of me. I have even retold that story (years later) to one of the individuals I believed to be responsible for orchestrating the gifting and he said nothing.

I think that was one the most meaningful thing anyone has ever done for me in my life and it’s the reason I’m a sucker for charity and doing things for people I care about. It was the best and most memorable Christmas I’ll ever have. Thank you MSgt. Anecdote & friends, you’ve touched my life forever with such a simple gesture.

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