|« Guest Post: Author Nell Dixon||Winner! »|
Guest Post: Author Kay Springsteen
Today I welcome fellow Astraea author Kay Springsteen.
Operation: Christmas Hearts BY Kay Springsteen
Ashley Torrington never cared much about Christmas before. But this year she’s having a particularly blue holiday because Marine Special Operations Team member, Nick Turner got under her skin just before he was deployed to Afghanistan. With her neighbors’ precocious daughter Bella volunteering Ashley for a special project at school, and a mysterious white-haired stranger named Estelle in town buying gifts from Ashley’s shop, not to mention the odd assortment of presents Ashley’s been receiving from an anonymous source, she shouldn’t have time to worry about her guy. But when he and his team go missing the week before Christmas, she realizes only a Christmas miracle will reunite them.
Captain Nicholas Turner never backed down from challenges—on the battlefield or in his personal life. But he’d never met a challenge like Ashley, who doesn't want to be anyone’s “girl back home.” Now he’s on the other side of the world, wanting to be anywhere but in Afghanistan for Christmas. About to embark on one of the most dangerous missions of his life, he needs Ashley to know she’s much more than the girl he’d left behind, and he does plan to come home to her. But in the meantime, a little Christmas magic would be appreciated. Little does he know, he’s about to get his wish.
The applause died out, and Trish slid into the seat next to Ashley. “Thank you for coming.”
“I didn’t know Mr. Kellogg was still here,” whispered Ashley. “Is he still teaching social studies?”
Trish snickered. “Um, no, he’s the principal. I take it you have a history together?”
“What makes you say that?” asked Ashley, with a sense of wariness.
“Because he keeps sneaking looks at you and something tells me it’s not because your hair is green,” answered Trish out of the side of her mouth while she looked straight ahead with a smile. “You didn’t…date or something did you?” The distaste in her voice made it clear what she thought about that scenario.
Ashley twisted her head and gaped at her friend. “Ew! He’s like a hundred and fifty years old. He was my social studies teacher. I thought he’d be gone by now.”
In that way mothers had of dividing their attention, Trish awarded Ashley with a sideways glare while somehow managing to keep up the appearance of watching the people on the stage. “What did you do to him?”
“He took us on a field trip to show us how people in Fiji fished—you know, with nets and stuff.” Ashley smiled and suppressed the urge to wave when Mr. Kellogg glanced her way.
“And so, I’ll let Mrs. Minton explain what we’ll be doing for our troops this year,” he said, stepping aside for the teacher.
An awkward silence took over the room for a few minutes while the two of them adjusted the microphone for Mrs. Minton’s lack of height. Someone coughed. A few chairs scraped on the floor as people adjusted their seats.
“Anyway,” Ashley continued in a hushed tone, keeping an eye on the stage. “I hated fishing and hated the idea of touching a fish. So I pushed him.”
Trish blinked. “You what?”
“I gave him a shove right off the pier, net and all when he tried to make me touch a slimy old fish.”
Trish chuckled out loud.
Ashley shushed her with an urgent hand on the arm. “Would you stop! It wasn’t funny. If the gym teacher hadn’t been on the trip, the nets probably would have pulled Mr. Kellogg under the water.” She covered her mouth with one hand and cleared her throat. The forced smile was beginning to hurt her cheeks. “Anyway, the next day when we got to school, he’d gotten rid of the goldfish in his classroom and we started a unit on Germany.”
Trish covered her own mouth and finally got silent spasms of laughter under control, but from her sidelong glances at the principal, she clearly wasn’t going to look at him in the same light again. Ashley turned her shoulder to her friend and focused her attention on Mrs. Minton as she outlined the “battle plan” for sending care packages to the troops.
“If you’ll look at our holiday tree at the back of the room, you’ll notice the red hearts decorating the branches. Each heart bears the name of a deployed soldier, airman, sailor, or marine, who has been identified as not having very much family support here at home.” She paused while the room turned as a whole to look at the tree. After a moment, she continued. “Folks, we have more than two hundred deployed military personnel listed on that tree who need to know someone cares.”
When I wrote this scene, I injected a bit of humor in the form of a childhood memory. But the last paragraph here is the one I truly wish people would focus on because it’s a heartrending fact that military service people from all countries often have little or no family at home. As hard as it is for our military to have someone and not be with them at the holiday season, imagine how much more difficult it is to be a member of the military and have no one, to be all alone.
And that’s why one of my favorite charities is The USO.
From the website: http://www.uso.org/the-organization.aspx
Our Mission: The USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families. Millions of times each year at hundreds of locations around the world, the USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families. A nonprofit, congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities. The USO is not part of the U.S. government, but is recognized by the Department of Defense, Congress and President of the United States, who serves as Honorary Chairman of the USO.
But even if you can’t donate to this organization, there are plenty of other things you can do to show our military service men and women that you care. This site here will take you directly to a place, sponsored by the USO, where you can leave an electronic message to our troops:
Won’t you consider leaving them a message today? Please remember the men and women who give up so much so we don’t have to.
May the blessings and love you receive this holiday season be with you all year long.
Check out more great work from Kay Springsteen!
Comments are closed for this post.