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 08, 2005

Day 323 - We're All In Our Places

Once we went public with the nutcracker parade, it caught on like crazy. Kids have brought nutcrackers. We’ve bought extra nutcrackers and shipped them to new collectors in other states. Folks have written to ask for information about specific nutcrackers. It’s all been great fun.

Here’s the latest to the 2005 collection…The 2005 Official Myron McCormick Nutcracker! Complete with stylish golf bag and silver beard, this wooden specimen is sure to be a crowd pleaser for years to come.

Another longstanding tradition in our family is sharing "stuff." My mom leads the pack in this category. For as long as I can remember, she always shared the little sample size toiletries from fancy hotels she visited. As I grew older, she shared make-up samples, which were always kept in a special bag in her powder room. Later, she shared big stuff, lke jewelry and furniture and special treasures that had belonged to her mom.

Not unlike a lot of kids, I grew to appreciate many of the things she gave me only after I had kept them a while. I can’t even remember when Mom gave me this painting. My guess is the artist probably saw a marketing opportunity in the early 70s after Tony Orlando released his smash hit, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”

For whatever reason, I’ve hauled that little six-inch canvas through every move of the last three decades, just because I liked it. Ironically, it wasn’t until after Wayne deployed to Iraq I even noticed the tiny yellow ribbon painted around the tree trunk.

Yesterday, I replaced the real yellow ribbon tied around the tree in our front yard one last time before Wayne comes home. Back in July, wind whipped Uncle Sam’s legs to the ground and shredded the ribbon from its post. Today, our man out front stands in the melted sno!w, waiting patiently for our soldier to make his grand entrance as a veteran instead of a soldier home on leave.

And we’re ready. Yes, we are.