Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Day 317 - The Official 2005 Nutcracker

I'm not sure how the tradition started, but ever since Wayne was born, we've gotten a new nutcracker each Christmas.

Sometime during the week after Thanksgiving, we always shopped for the current year's nutcracker. Without ever having developed a specific list of requirements, we simply followed our instincts until the perfect wooden soldier virtually jumped up in our faces.

Yesterday was no exception.

I've had my 2005 Nutcracker Radar on for about a week now. Walking through department stores last night, I told Myron it felt like we were getting close, but each time I picked up a candidate, my Knower said No.

Suddenly, somewhere between the blenders and the plate chargers at the third store, I perked up as if someone had actually called my name.

Spinning around, I stood face to face with a wooden army of shiny new nutcrackers. Scanning the array of colors on the endcap display, I spotted a robust specimen dressed in Red, White and Blue.

"That's IT!" I squealed to Myron. "Here's the Official 2005 Nutcracker!"

Eyes brimming with tears, Myron smiled back, nodding gently at our new Guardian of Good Cheer.

Continuing Wayne's tradition, we brought the new nutcracker home and labeled the underside of his stand with the year, 2005. Tomorrow, he will lead the Holiday Army of 21 other nutcrackers collected each year since 1983.

So here it is, Wayne. Hope you approve.