I know what you might be thinking. "Leave it to a command sergeant major to add 'readiness' to 'holiday.'" And, yes, while medical and Service Member readiness is my top priority, I mean to emphasize it in a different way as it pertains to this time of the year.

We are in full Christmas market swing here in Europe which means roasted chestnuts and gluhwein. As you and your loved ones travel around Europe for the holidays, please ensure that you are ready and prepared if you intend on having the occasional alcoholic beverage or two. Whether it is gluhwein, spiked eggnog, a glass of wine or any other combination of alcoholic drinks, be ready with a designated driver and a plan to arrive at your final destination safely. Do not drink and drive; .05 percent blood alcohol level gets you arrested!

For many of our service members, the holidays can be a miserable time if they are away from their loved ones. They may feel angry and alone, or they may feel sad and depressed. Whatever the case, as one team we need to be ready to continue the Army tradition of caring for others. If you are feeling unhappy or disheartened during the holiday season, please reach out to your teammates and leaders for help. In turn, leaders, check on your teammates and take appropriate actions to take care of each other.

This time of the year can be very stressful for adults when it comes to gift giving, particularly when you're considering gifts for children. As parents, we want to see the excitement and happiness on our kids' faces when they open presents, and for some of us, we may go too far with spending. If your plan is to be the "Elf of the Year" in the eyes of your children, ensure that you have a solid financial plan for you and your family before making a sizable purchase at your favorite electronics store. All too often we live outside our means and create unneeded, and most certainly, unwanted, additional stress.

Finally, be ready for snowballs. Be prepared to get hit by them during a fun snowball fight and be ready for when they melt and turn the roads to black ice. Yes, this is the actual safety brief. Safety is everyone's responsibility and it is our duty to observe controls for hazards, including proper trip planning, driving the speed limit and getting proper rest. Ensure your vehicle is equipped for winter driving conditions in accordance with the host nation laws. Leaders, conduct a vehicle inspection on your teams' automobiles. Safety always!

Whether you're hanging Christmas lights, working a night shift at the hospital, baking holiday treats or gallivanting around Europe, please remember to maintain a constant state of readiness. It has been an incredible three months since I arrived at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the Kaiserslautern Military Community. I look forward to what 2019 has in store for us. Enjoy this wonderful season and, from my family to yours, happy holidays!