Weekly MP Report from Jay Hill

MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.

The True Meaning of Christmas From Our Soldiers in a Foreign Land  

As Christmas Day 2008 approaches many of us are fortunate to look forward to the warmth, love and companionship of family and dear friends. 

It’s also a busy time of year, especially for those with young families.  The last minute shopping, the carols, the wrapping, the travelling for some, the baking and cooking, then the boisterous house as excited children and relatives gather together to share in this special celebration.

Yet imagine if you couldn’t be here to experience it – any of it.  Imagine what it would be like to be missing this because you were in the middle of a war-torn country braving the enemy and the elements at Christmas.

This Christmas I ask that you please give a thought, and give thanks, for the Canadian soldiers who are currently serving our nation in Afghanistan.

This week’s weather report from Kabul, Afghanistan indicates night-time temperatures hovering just above freezing and a condition most Canadians have likely never seen in weather forecasts … "smoke". 

As you enjoy a warm fireplace or central heating, along with the unforgettable scent of roasting turkey, remember our soldiers spending Christmas week sleeping in tents and in sparse conditions, especially those in forward operating bases, or worse, on the move nowhere near a base.

Two years ago when I had the very rewarding privilege of serving Christmas dinner to Canadian troops in Afghanistan, I saw those rugged conditions first-hand.  I knew that those soldiers were missing even the most chaotic and routine Christmas moments with their loved ones and friends.

Yet they never complained.  In fact, their firm belief in their mission and keen desire to help the people of Afghanistan was the most awe-inspiring manifestation of Christmas spirit I have ever witnessed. 

Try as I might, I cannot hold a candle to the eloquent and moving words of gratitude that average Canadians have taken the time to convey to our troops in recent days.  On a special Internet message board, hundreds of individuals and families have sent messages to Canadian troops overseas.

One posting reads:  "I think of you and hope your hearts have some Christmas joy in a strange land and different climate.  You are a great gift to the future of all the Afghanistan children.  Maybe they can sleep in heavenly peace. Know that your gift is acknowledged and more than any of us here could give to our children."

Another post reads:  "Our prayers are with you always but especially during this Christmas season. We thank you for your protection of our way of life."

This is just a sampling of many touching messages you can find by linking to "Write to Our Troops" at www.forces.gc.ca <http://www.forces.gc.ca/> .  If you want to enrich your family’s spirit of Christmas as you gather this holiday season, I encourage you to review these postings together and perhaps post one of your own.  It will be one of the greatest gifts you’ll give and receive this Christmas!

On behalf of my family and staff, Merry Christmas to you and yours!