I know you're probably having a really hard time right now with Christmas being tomorrow...I know I would be. But I'm glad you decided to work tomorrow instead of sitting in your room by yourself. I know you will make the Soldiers so happy on Christmas just by being your happy, bubbly self. And that's what they need now, but you do too. You guys need one another on the holidays.
She's right. That line, "you guys need one another on the holidays," hit me like a sack of bricks. I immediately thought of all my guys and how excited they'll be tomorrow and how I can't wait to hug 'em and give 'em a present from the USO. I thought of how I'll wear some antlers and the Christmas trees I helped re-decorate today will be glowing. I thought of how they would smile and then I thought of how it would make me smile. Earlier today a soldier said, hey, can I have a hug, my sister told me I should get a hug for Christmas. It was funny, so Cindy, my coworker and I gave him and his buddy a hug before they left and they were smiling from ear to ear. These thoughts started to reassure me, but not completely lift me out of my funk.
I closed the e-mail and walked down the hallway of my mod (modular housing unit) to the bathroom to get ready for bed and on the way back I saw a pair of combat boots outside a bedroom door. I saw them earlier and thought why are those there, but ignored it. This time it hit me. I think I remember something about shoes outside doors on Christmas...something about St. Nick filling them with goodies! After a quick google to make sure I wasn't making things up and this was a tradition, I started tearing through my drawers looking for treats from care packages others had sent me. I found the M&Ms Lauren sent me, the peppermint patties Sarah Y gave me, the granola bar Sarah Y's mom sent me, the candy canes Sara D sent me, the chapstick Sarah R sent me, and the rice krispie treats Ang sent me. The Rice Krispie treat wrapper had a section to write on it. I scribbled, "Merry Christmas! Love, St. Nick." I got so excited to fill those boots! It filled me with so much giddiness, like a child opening their presents on Christmas! I got to give someone else the feeling of Christmas. They could've opened up their door to disappointment, but I got to help renew a lil hope.
Now maybe I'm totally off course, and they really just had smelly boots, so they put them outside and they're going to say what in the world?! when they open the door and see the candy filled shoes, but maybe, just maybe, they were hoping for some sign of goodness and I confirmed it. Maybe, God works in mysterious ways, and my horrible mood was first shifted by Steph's email that reminded me of why I'm here and then I was presented with an opportunity to fulfill that work. Those boots had been there for hours, but I had been to ignorant and too self-involved in my own pity party to really see them.
Life is full of boots in hallways, these signs that are unobtrusive in our world, but if we just quiet our selfish, busy, skeptical, selves for a little while we can truly see what they are there for.