Old Sarge: Ode to the Best of All Christmases

December 22, 2015

This is a heartfelt tribute from one of our favorite contributors, Vietnam veteran, author and friend, Forrest L. Gomez.


Down throught the years, through all the days, I have experienced Christmas in many environments, and in many and varied circumstances. I remember the wonderful, warm, colorful, happy days of my childhood, when my dad – veteran of World War II and the Korean War – did his very best to give our poor family a happy Christmas. A child of the Great Depression himself, he wanted us to have the Christmases he never had.

I remember Christmases when I was at war, two in Vietnam and one in El Salvador, saying without prejudice that it is just not the same celebrating that holiday of holidays with the locals, and with GIs just as lonely as one’s self.

I have spent two Christmasses in the hospital, three on staff duty while in the Army, and one incredibly lonely Christmas when my wife of 19 years had left me the month before. After I gave my life to God in 1979, it was thrilling to share Christmas with a church family, people I knew I could depend on to care about me and pray for me when Ineeded it. I remember Christmas of 2001, when we looked to the future with a bit of frightened anticipation, not knowing what the followups would be on both sides to Nine-Eleven,

And I remember Christmas of 2009, when I had met Cathy just prior, the woman I would propose to on Valentine’s Day 2010, and the unmatchable lady who would become my wife on 4 September 2010. The Christmases with Cathy have been glorious, even though she spent one in the hospital herself.

I know I’m rattling on, but I’m an old guy, and tradition says I’m allowed to. My point is that I have learned some important things that God tries to teach us through His Word, and through our experiences. Most of you probably already figured this out, but I’m going to say it anyway. Might be some folks out there even slower than me.

There are payoffs in life if we allow ourselves to experience them. These payoffs are not things like big bank accounts, slick cars, sexy members of the opposite gender in our lives, lots of things, etc. The payoffs are things that can be intangible if we don’t focus on God’s plans for each of us. Think about it: the world may think you’re a nobody, but to somebody, you are the world! Have you watched your child, or the child of a relative or friend, come into the world? Does not your dog or cat, or some other pet, love you all the time, without qualifications? The vast majority of us have friends and loved ones that would cover our backs, even take a bullet for us. How did you feel about that kid waving his hat in the breeze after a game, or our military personnel overseas?! These are real blessings, and I have only scratched the surface.

My church had its last service before Christmas today, of course. Please once again put two thoughts together for me, brothers and sisters. There were many times when I did not think I was going to live long enough to have a family, and I could have died without God in my life. Most of you know that I have grand children, Praise the Lord. I thank God every day that I am still with the living.

Today (not for the first time by any means), my grand son Connor was on my right as we walked down the center aisle of our church, ushers, in the Abundant Life Fellowship Church of Tacoma, Washington. Some of you may remember that this kid chased off a prowler at our place a couple of years ago. We hae received many compliments for ushering side by side like that.

This is the payoff folks. Thank you, Jesus, for my life, my splendid wife, my children, my grand children, my church, my church family, and for my salvation. Life is SO good, just thinking about God’s blessings!

Brothers when you see an obstacle in life, look beyond it, and open your eyes and hearts. You will see the Lord.

Merry Christmas, everyone! To our Jewish brothers and sisters, Shalom!

The Sarge

Reposted with permission of the author by  12/22/15

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