Every year, I pull out my Christmas tree ornaments, expecting to find a couple broken ones.
Today, as my husband and I were opening up cardboard boxes, I found the first one: a gift from a Marine I met at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, three years ago.
The small frame in the shape of a gingerbread man had broken in four pieces. A tiny photograph of the Marine, his mom, dad and four siblings had fallen out. This is written on the back:
25 Dec 2004
Kathleen, You made my family and me a Merry Christmas.
Thank You. Cpl. Ivanov (Kris)
I remember Cpl. Ivanov. He was a member of the Marine Corps Band at Al Asad — I was there to do a profile story on the band, aired on Christmas Day. Cpl. Ivanov's parents watched back home in states, able to share the holiday with their son through the magic of television.
Next week, I am going back to Al Asad for the first time since 2004. This time, I will be home in time to spend Christmas with my husband and family. I hope Cpl. Ivanov is with his family this year, as well.
Update: I was able to piece the gingerbreadman back together using a hot glue gun. It's not the work of a master craftsman, but it will do. The ornament with the photo inside is hanging on my tree. So, I will be spending Christmas with the Ivanov family too.
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Kathleen Foster is a general assignment Field Producer based in New York. She started at FOX as an intern in 1996. She has covered the Iraq war, the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and the fight for Anna Nicole's body.