Click photo to enlarge
Kira Garcia is a young newlywed living in Farmington.

She turns 21 on Dec. 19, but instead of focusing on any presents for herself, Kira stood in line at the busy post office and anxiously waited to see how much it would cost to mail a big box of Christmas goodies to someone else:

Her husband.

In Iraq.

But that's not the story here.

The real story has a bit more Christmas magic added to it.

Kira married Carlos Garcia, 21, also of Farmington, just three months ago on Sept. 3.

Carlos is a United States Marine, and only 20 days after the wedding, he was deployed to Iraq.

That's not the best of ways to kick off a new marriage for a young couple in love. However, Kira says they both knew what they were doing, and she is very happy about her marriage.

But she also already misses her husband, and more so with the Christmas season, which, after all, is about love and sharing with others.

Carlos misses her too, she says, as well as the normal things that come with Christmas.

"He definitely misses being home, and misses his family," Kira said. "But it's what he signed up for. He knew what he was getting in to."

***

Carlos first was sent to Cuba, then to Bahrain and onward to Iraq.

He is serving a four-year hitch with the Marines, so it is uncertain how long the current deployment will last.

While it's true Carlos may be a tough, war-serving Marine sent to the front lines of battle to serve our country, that doesn't mean there's still no little boy at Christmas time inside of him.

"I got him an X-box Guitar Hero," Kira proudly said, referring to one of the hottest toys of the season that allows its players to simulate playing a real guitar. Obviously, it's fun for kids of all ages.

That wasn't all she gathered and boxed to send to him.

"We had a package from my grandpa and mother, and a package of cookies to his friend," Kira said. "We just had a bunch of goodies we were sending them for Christmas."

Ah, but then came the tough part.

She and her mother went to the Post Office, carrying this big, Iraq-bound box among other smaller ones and began the wait. Not just the wait to mail the package, but the wait to see how much this young bride would have to pay to ship it to Iraq.

Every dollar, after all, counts much in a newlywed's budget.

Have you visited the Post Office at Christmas time?

I did Thursday morning, where anyone who ever goes to the Farmington Post Office on 20th Street would surely at some point and time have met Donna, who had the center window when I finally got to her.

Silly me, trying to be as nice as she was in conversation while she weighed my postage, asked her, "So, are you busy with the Christmas rush already?"

I wanted to pull the words back as soon as I had uttered them, knowing that was a ridiculous question to ask a postal worker in December.

Donna, however, continued without skipping a beat and never lost the smile on her face.

"Oh, it started long ago," she said. "Do you need some stamps? I've got some nice Christmas stamps here to choose from?"

***

So, back to Kira and her mother, who a couple of days earlier finally had made their way to one of the six or seven clerk windows for service, perhaps Donna's window there at the center of the long counter.

The big question now would be, how much?

To Kira's surprise, however, the question was asked by someone else before she could ask it.

A man in line next to her, a total stranger, had heard Kira and her mother talking about her lonesomeness for her husband who was so far away, and how she hoped this big box of Christmas surprises somehow would help Carlos and his buddies feel a little bit of home at Christmas.

The price for the big box to be mailed to Iraq, and to get there just in time for Christmas, would be about $60.

The stranger "opened up his wallet, handed me three 20s and said Merry Christmas,' and turned around and walked off," Kira said, still moved by the gift and the kindness. "I have no clue who he is or anything about him."

So, Kira called me and asked if I would help her with something she felt she still needed to do.

"I just want to say thank you,'" she said. "I just want to let that man know how much we appreciate it and to say thank you to him."

Mister, whoever you are, she means it.

And so likely will her brave husband in Iraq when he gets his surprises.

And his buddies who will share the cookies.

***

Donna, the Post Office worker, showed me two sets of stamps.

One was a cute but secular book of stamps with nothing tied to the religious nature of Christmas, and one book showed the miracle of Christ's birth with the Baby Jesus in mother Mary's lap.

"I'll take the one with Jesus," I told her.

Christmas spirit.

May we all be so blessed as Kira, Carlos, and those who give.

Merry Christmas.

Troy Turner is the editor of The Daily Times. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 450, Farmington, N.M., 87499; or at tturner@daily-times.com.