By Maj. Richard L. Sowers Carson City

Through the rice paddy, snow is glistening.

A care package from Aunt Grace, Mom, Mary or Grandma "with love" and laden with broken cookies, hardened candy, melted candy, smashed candy and plain candy.

A fresh tangerine not too badly bruised by the long journey's hundred drops. Canned nuts, blessings, holiday greetings and intimate scents so overburdened with the smell of cardboard that he can't remember what kind of perfume she used ... XXXs and OOOs ... "I miss you darling, and please be careful" ... toasts to the new year by the vets ... the quiet, pillow-muffled sobs of the non-vet.

Silent night. All is calm. The flares are bright.

"Hey buddy. Try one of my Mom's cookies. Aren't they great?"

"Yup. Wish the jets would lay off. I gotta go to work in two hours. What's the date, Harry?"

"The 24th, stupid. Christmas is tomorrow!"

"Big deal. G'night, Harry."

And it's Christmas time in Vietnam.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Mr. Sowers is retired Army and a lifetime musician (pianist). He is new to Carson City, coming from Tucson, Ariz.


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