Screenshot 2023-12-12 at 3.01.10 PM.pngWelcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

This was one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite childhood Christmas movies. I remembered fondly sitting on the floor of my living room, excitedly waiting for it to start. It didn’t matter how many times I saw the movie, year after year, it signaled the start of the Christmas season for me and my family.

Everyone knew that the Grinch was an old sourpuss, but deep down he had kindness in his heart. Isn’t that the way humanity is supposed to be? That is what I was taught growing up. Volunteering in soup kitchens with my parents, Girl Scouts for me, Boy Scouts for my brother, gathering toys at Christmas for local foster kid organizations, and many other charitable organizations. Yes, this was my upbringing and the way I genuinely believed everyone thought.

But then I joined the Army. I wanted to serve my country and help others. I worked hard and gained rank and found myself in the Army Delta Force. We were the ones sent in to rescuethe hostages. It was during these times that my views on humanity changed. I saw and heard things that no human should ever hear or see. My team was sent in to rescue women and children who had been taken out of sheer hate. Men fighting for their lives, begging us to make room for them. My heart would break every time we had to leave someone behind.

Where was the humanity now?

Nothing I witnessed made sense to me. Yet, I knew from my upbringing that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
When we arrived at basecamp with our newly rescued group in tow, tears would flow. Not only by those rescued, but from their families as well. There was never any shortage of thank-you's and hugs. Grown men hit their knees as they saw their wives walk off the planes. Mothers hugged their children so tight it was as if they were trying to pull them back into their bodies. Many times, I shed my own tears. Tears of relief that we found the hostages, tears of pride that we got them out, tears of joy that we were able to reunite families. But most of all I cried tears of sadness. Sadness that I had to be here at all. My heart hurt for these families and the loss and suffering they had to endure.

Today however, I tried not to think of the sadness. It was Christmas Eve, I wished I were home with my family, but here I was at my base camp with people who had come to be a second family to me. We were being briefed about a hostage situation that had taken place in the Middle East. We were going to be sent in the day after Christmas. We had two days to enjoy a military holiday.

We all waited excitedly for the packages from home delivering home baked goods, candies, cookies, even an occasional brownie. But the best part of the packages were the letters and pictures. Even though we received letters throughout the year, there was something about those cards and letters that come at Christmas that made them extra special.
Christmas day arrived and the chow hall created a special dinner for us. There was ham and macaroni and cheese, turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. The one time of the year you never heard anyone complain about a mess in the mess hall. We all come together regardless of our rank for some camaraderie and laughter.

“Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle all the way,” Someone started singing Christmas Carols and we all joined in. For today we would forget the wars that were happening around us. For today we would not think about the lives that would be placed in our hands tomorrow.

Today the room was full of joy as we gathered and bowed our heads to pray before the meal we were being blessed with.

I looked around at all my fellow soldiers, some had grabbed the hand of the person next to them, some put an arm around the shoulder of their neighbor, all were thankful for the moment, and I remembered my childhood once more and whispered “Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.
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I wonder if you need “I wanted to serve my country and help others.” You show that in the previous paragraph.

Start with paragraph two?

Where's the tension?

How many in the Delta Group?

Only rescue women and children?

“Men fighting for their lives, begging us to make room for them. My heart would break every time we had to leave someone behind.” I’m not sure you need either sentence. You made this point clear in the previous sentence.

There might be other places you can cut due to redundancy.

Lastly, check your verb tenses. There are a coupe of places you switch that may not be necessary.
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I liked that you started with her upbringing as that made it believable that this particular character could retain her open-heartedness in spite of the scenes she witnessed. Perhaps taking us to one of those difficult situations first hand (rather than reporting on it) would have added some tension and taken me even more deeply into her heart and mind. Lovely story for Christmas. Well done!
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I'm always drawn to stories about soldiers. I feel they're heroes, and the closest representation we have to Christ here on earth, giving their blood, their bodies for the rest of us. You captured this sentiment for me. I would have liked to be able to be in the action rather than just told about it, but enjoyed the heartfelt way they bowed their heads to pray, and joined together in that moment. In the midst of war, a moment of peace.
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