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Christmas brings out the best stories

Christmas brings out the best stories

This one’s not a tearjerker, but it is exceedingly sweet. A soldier stationed in Afghanistan is able to continue a Christmas tradition with his family, despite being separated by thousands of miles.

Although far from home, a deployed Soldier here will continue a long-standing holiday tradition with his family in Louisiana.

Every Christmas Eve, Lt. Col. Stephen Jeselink, Task Force Warrior deputy commander, reads the poem “The Night Before Christmas” to his family – a tradition he started 18 years ago when the family was stationed in Karlsruhe, Germany.

“It’s a simple act, but it means so much to me and my family,” Jeselink said.

Jeselink will be able to continue that tradition, thanks to the United Through Reading military program, which allows servicemembers to record themselves reading books and then send the DVD to their children back home. United Through Reading is, in part, a troop-support group that offers DVD services at deployed and some USO locations.

“Many Americans only see the USO centers in airports throughout the United States, but they’re providing an incredible service to our servicemen and civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, too,” Jeselink said.

Jeselink said he is grateful for the program, particularly since this will be the first Christmas he and his wife, Barbara, will be apart in their 26 years of marriage.

“I felt like we needed to do this even though he is deployed,” Barbara said.

She mailed her husband a copy of the poem by Clement Clarke Moore so he could record himself reading it at the USO here.

Barbara hopes to surprise her family by playing the recording of Jeselink after Christmas Eve dinner when the entire family gathers in the living room in front of the Christmas tree.

I think that program is a brilliant idea. How great is it that families like this one are able to continue traditions and continue to build bonds, despite being apart?

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