The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

I’ll be home for Christmas

The Ross Siblings – Zach, Carlyn, Zeke, Levi – celebrate Zeke’s Christmas arrival in 2021.

On sea, on land, in air. The military is making countless sacrifices to keep their families and friends safe. Part of that sacrifice is even having to spend the holiday season without their families.

Many military families, especially ones with members who are active duty, spend their holidays hoping their loved ones stay safe overseas. For some, like my family, there are many oceans separating us from my own brother.

Christmas has always been a time where my family gets together, whether that’s visiting relatives or having game nights at home. However, without a family member, it makes the Christmas season feel a little vacant.

I have had several family members serve in the military, whether it was my grandpa or my uncle or even my sibling, who is currently serving. Smoke Signals alum and my brother, Zeke Ross, is having to spend his Christmas on a boat in Asia.

Having three siblings who are all relatively close in age, my family has grown pretty close over the course of our childhoods. From the time we initially dropped Zeke off in Louisville for boot camp to now, this is the first Christmas we do not get to see him.

From boot camp to A-School, to being stationed in Northern California, to now being on a boat in Asia, Zeke’s journey through the Navy has taken him all over. But even despite migrating to so many bases, Zeke has always been able to come home for Christmas until this year.

While his assignment is hard on my direct family, it is also difficult on my extended family.

Having lost my grandfather, who also served in the Navy, this past February, my grandmother is hoping to make this upcoming holiday season a memorable one, even despite missing a few family members.

Divorce, health complications, death in a family, deployment – these are things that a lot of families go through.

When it could pose a threat to the Christmas spirit, my family has found ways to persevere to make the holidays wonderful for everyone.

However, communication seems to be a large barrier when trying to connect with Zeke. While there are times when he has enough Internet or gets permission to call, most of his time is spent on radio silence.

His radio silence wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it was not during the holiday season, far away from his family. Of course, he has the companionship of his crewmates, but it’s not the same as spending a cozy Christmas at home.

To try and bring some of that coziness to him across seas, my family and I packaged a care package to get him through the harshness of separation.

Filled to the brim with letters, trinkets, and even a Star Wars Santa hat, the attempts to make him feel included are not in vain.

Of course, I am so incredibly grateful for the work he is doing for our country, sacrificing his time to give back to ensuring the safety of our home. But there is still a part of me that truly misses having everyone together for Christmas.

Decorating our house with Christmas decorations, we made sure to include some blue lights amongst the decor. While these lights are to symbolize our gratitude for every sailor in the Navy, we are showing the most gratitude for Zeke.

It’s incredibly special to have someone so close to you be so honorable as to dedicate their time to serving our country. To make things better, anyone can make Christmas cards to send to active duty soldiers so nobody has to feel alone this holiday season.

I know this Christmas situation isn’t uncommon, and my heart goes out to any military family who had to spend their holidays without their loved ones. And to anyone who has spent the holidays away from their families due to their deployment, I salute you for your service.

And while I know that Zeke is staying overseas, my heart cannot help but tighten a little every time I hear that coveted holiday song, I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Zach Ross
Zach Ross, Features Editor
Once upon a time, a baby was introduced into the world. Fast forward 17 years, and you may find that this baby has grown into being a very talented, amazing, and awesome Features Editor. That baby grew up to be Zach Ross. In those 17 years of life, Zach has experienced the joys of dinosaurs, Broadway, Backyardigans, and Smoke Signals. And though he was once a baby, uncertain of the world ahead of him, he found a signal in the smoke and everything became clear. With every good story, there is a beginning and an end. The beginning was birth, and the end is Smoke Signals.

Comments (2)

All Smoke Signals Student Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • T

    Tarah RanbergDec 25, 2023 at 11:29 pm

    Very well written. Military memberbers and their families always have the hardest times during the holidays. God bless them and keep them safe!

  • K

    Kimberly JohnsonDec 24, 2023 at 8:06 pm

    Both your family and brother are in my thoughts. Hope our Christmas is wonderful. My brother spent several Christmas ‘s awAy during his 10 years air force. I remember the empty spot at Christmas.