'Twas the night before Christmas
He lived all alone
In a one bedroom house
Of plaster and stone

I came down the chimney
With presents to give
And to see just who
In this home did live

I looked all about
A strange sight I did see
No tinsel, no presents
Not even a tree

No stocking by mantle
Just boots filled with sand
On the walls hung pictures
Of far distant lands

With medal and badges
Awards of all kinds
A sober thought
Came through my mind

For this house was different
It was dark and dreary
I found the home of a Soldier
Once I could see clearly

The Soldier lay sleeping
Silent -- Alone
Curled up on the floor
In this one bedroom home

The face was so gentle
The room in such disorder
Not how I pictured
A United States Soldier

Was this the hero
Of whom I'd just read
Curled up on a poncho
The floor for a bed

I realized the families
That I saw this night
Owed their lives to the Soldiers
Who were willing to fight

Soon round the world
The children would play
And grownups would celebrate
A bright Christmas day

They all enjoyed freedom
Each month of the year
Because of the Soldiers
Like the one lying here

I couldn't help wonder
How many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve
In a land far from home

The very thought
Brought a tear to my eye
I dropped to my knees
And started to cry

The Soldier awakened
I heard a rough voice
Santa don't cry
This life is my choice

I fight for freedom
I don't ask for more
My life is my God
My country, my corps

The Soldier rolled over
And drifted to sleep
I couldn't control it
I continued to weep

I kept watch for hours
So silent and still
And we both shivered
From the cold nights chill

I did not want to leave
On that dark night
This guardian of honor
So willing to fight

Then the Soldier rolled over
With a voice soft and pure
Whispered carry on Santa
Its Christmas Day -- all is secure

One look at my watch
And I knew he was right
Merry Christmas my friend
And to all a good night!

Kim Etherton

This poem was written by Kim Etherton last Christmas for her son Private first class Alvaro Aquino-Cervantes of Kelso, Wash. Cervantes was deployed from July 2010 to June 2011 to Kandahar Airfield with Delta Company, 1-4 Aviation Reconnaissance Battalion, 1-501 Combat Aviation Brigade.
Cervantes is an Apache helicopter repairman currently with Delta Co., 1-4 ARB, 1-501 CAB, Fort Bliss, Texas. He will spend this Christmas with his mom and two children.