The Night Before

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‘Twas the night before Christmas

He lived all alone

In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone

I had come down the chimney with presents to give.

And to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about, a strange sight I did see.

No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stocking by the mantle, just boots filled with sand.

On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,

A sobering thought came through my mind.

For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,

I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,

curled up on the floor, in this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,

Not how I pictured an infantry soldier.

Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?

Curled up on his poncho, the floor for a bed?

I realised the families that I saw this night,

Owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world, the children would play,

And grown-ups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,

Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,

On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,

I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,

“Santa don’t cry, this life is my choice.”

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,

I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours, so silent and still

And we both shivered from the cold nights chill.

I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark, night.

This guardian of honour, so willing to fight.

The solider rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,

Whispered, “Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”

One look at my watch, and I knew he was right.

“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a free night.”

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