’Twas the night before Christmas, He lived all aloneIn a one bedroom houseMade of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimneyWith presents to give And to see just whoIn this home did live.
I looked all about;A strange sight I did see:No tinsel, no presentsNot even a tree.
No stocking by mantle,Just boots filled with sand,On the wall hung picturesOf far distant lands …
With medals and badges,Awards of all kinds …A sober thoughtCame through my mind.
For this house was different,It was dark and dreary,I found a home of a soldierOnce I could see clearly.
The Soldier lay sleeping,Silent, Alone,Curled up on the floorIn this one-bedroom home.
The face was so gentleThe Room in disorder;Not how I picturedA United States Soldier.
Was this the heroOf who I’d just readCurled up on the ponchoThe floor for a bed
I realized the families That I saw this nightOwed their lives to this soldierWho was willing to fight.
Soon ’round the worldThe children would playAnd grownups would celebrateA bright Christmas Day.
They all enjoy freedomEach month of the yearBecause of the soldiers Like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonderHow many lay aloneOn a cold Christmas EveIn a land far from home.
The very thoughtBrought a tear to my eyeI dropped to my knees And started to cry.
The soldier awakenedAnd 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 overAnd drifted to sleepI couldn’t control itI continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours,So silent and stillAnd we both shiveredFrom the cold night’s chill.
I didn’t want to leaveOn that cold, dark night —This guardian of honor,So willing to fight.
Then the Soldier rolled overAnd with a voice, soft and pure,Whispered, “Carry on, Santa.It’s Christmas Day, all’s secure.”
One look at my watchAnd I knew he was right“Merry Christmas, My Friend.And to all, A Good Night.”
Editor’s Note: The original version authored by James M. Schmidt, entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend” was published in Leatherneck magazine in December 1991. Over the years, the text has been altered to change Marine-specific wording into U.S. Army references including the title, as U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers.” The piece above sees wide circulation with various versions every Christmas, and we want to thank one of our readers for bringing this version to our attention.