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Christmastime, in a land without
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If you believe in the true meaning of Christmas, there are no boundaries.

I’m a Christian man living in Afghanistan.

It was my conscience plea that beckoned me to this forgotten land.

As a well-schooled trauma surgeon, I lent the triage a helping hand

A humble Red Cross unit lacking comic relief except for the irony in its name 

As it came to be called “Santa’s Kitchen.”

Santa Claus had helpers to work with misfit toys.

Here we spend our day fixing broken girls and mangled boys.

IEDs explode!  Are you listening? Car bombs ring!  People go missing.

It’s a gruesome sight to be in Kabul tonight, pray for the innocent in Afghanistan.


’Twas the night before Christmas and here do I stand, ankle deep in the sand 

With eyes searching the night sky for the star of Bethlehem

Oh the Taliban, the Taliban. They gaze at me with suspicion.

I fear not repercussion for my surgical skills transcend religion.

I let my God given talent do the talking no matter who lay before me on the table.

Sometimes I feel like the Mujahideen see me as a Shepard with no discernible flock.

I am like a Shaman made in the image of God.  I live in the reflection of the Lord Jesus.

Yet I have no problem hanging my Christmas stocking on the star with a crescent moon.

For my faith has been tempered by the fire and set in stone.


Alone in the darkness under the desert sky, I burn Frankincense and Myrrh to honor the birth of my savior.

As Christmas day comes to this forgotten land I contemplate the life of Jesus.

He was persecuted from the manger all the way to Calvary escarpment

While holding the knowledge that his death would cleanse the sins of man

And what gifts have we to lay before the King?  Apathy? Or maybe to reinvent 

The meaning of Christmas and give the gifts to ourselves from the God of Gold.


I see the poor street orphans scurry through the streets in search of food and shelter.

The dirty hands belong to us who were given a second chance at redemption.

When it comes to righteousness, the religions of the world seek power over deliverance.

Believe in God or the Prophet as long as the quest is peace on earth, 

Good will to all with malice to none.  If that be our destiny why not vow to make it so?

My Christmas wish is for the world’s children, snug in their bed, food in their belly

And dreams filled with hope in their head.

Therein lies my salvation. When the need of my work at “Santa’s Kitchen” comes to an end

Peace out!


Eric Cleveland lives in Platteville.