Merry Christmas!   There are many reminders of what the true meaning of Christmas is, many events and people who in an instant capture what is important.  I had another such moment when I was in Feasterville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, when Airman First Class Ed Armstrong, Jr., came home unexpectedly for the holidays.  His, dad, Ed, Sr., picked him up at the airport.  His sister, Samantha, and a few other relatives and friends were made aware that he was coming home.  But, they did not tell his mother. Donna was sad because her son had to be so far away during the holidays.  Ed, Jr. and everyone  decided to surprise Donna.  There was a knock on the door.  Donna gets up from the family room chair to answer it.  It’s Eddie.  Lots of hugs, tears and smiles dominated the next few minutes.  Okay, hours.  Ed Armstrong, Jr., is home from his Air Force duties. He’ll even get to march with his Dad in the annual Philadelphia Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. Both are in Uptown String Band.  The deployments of 2011 are kept as far out of mind as possible. Today, the Armstrongs are enjoying a family Christmas. That is something that many U.S. servicemen and women are not enjoying.  It is tough on them, but it is also rough, perhaps even rougher, on the mothers and fathers and siblings and sons and daughters who do not have their loved one home.  To the men and women in the Armed Forces, thank you for serving.  And to all, please remember them this day, and enjoy the family, friends and true meaning of Christmas found in them.

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