Christmas Day need not fall on Dec. 25

Master Sgt. Douglas Crossen, communications squadron first sergeant, attends a Cops vs. Comm football game at a deployed location to show support for his team. Sergeant Crossen is the first sergeant for the 92nd Communications Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

Master Sgt. Douglas Crossen, communications squadron first sergeant, attends a Cops vs. Comm football game at a deployed location to show support for his team. Sergeant Crossen is the first sergeant for the 92nd Communications Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- For the past 20 years, Christmas Day in the Crossen household has included watching their favorite holiday movie, Frosty the Snowman, and opening all but the one gift they chose to open the night before. Most importantly, though, the day is about spending time with those who mean the most to them.

This year, something is missing from that family ritual: a husband and a father, both the same person.

Master Sgt. Douglas Crossen, 92nd Communications Squadron first sergeant, deployed in late August to support the Global War on Terror. His deployment is scheduled to take him through the holiday season, until his family welcomes him home in mid-January.

And although this is the first deployment Sergeant Crossen's family has experienced in his 21-year career, his family has a positive outlook on the situation.

"It's hard," said his wife, Paula Crossen. "We miss him a lot, but we know that when he gets back that we will have that time together."

In fact, the family has opted to postpone their family Christmas celebration this year until they can spend it all together.

"Just because it says on the calendar that Christmas falls on December 25th doesn't mean that's the only day you can celebrate it," said Mrs. Crossen.

So after Sergeant Crossen makes it back to the States, and after a couple days of recovery, the family plans to gather and re-create their own Christmas Day.

The children, now 17 and 20, have even offered to delay opening their presents until their dad comes home.

"Since they're older it's a little easier," Mrs. Crossen said.

Their family has come together during this time to get through the months without him. He still plays a big role in the family life though.

Almost every day, without fail, Mrs. Crossen and her husband instant message each other, and e-mail back and forth throughout the day.

About once a week they are able to talk on the phone.

"He always wants to know what the kids are doing, though they're usually sleeping because of the time difference, and what else is going on around the house," she said.

She is grateful to have the opportunity to talk that often.

"There are still a lot of families that are not able to do that because of either their locations or resources available to them," she said "We're really lucky to have that advantage."

Another thing she admits that has helped them prepare for this first deployment, and get them through any unexpected bumps along the way, is being a part of a military family and living the lifestyle for so long.

"We're still not sure what day he's coming home, but that's just the way it is in the military," she joked.

She anticipates more deployments coming their way soon, but has the same optimistic outlook for those as she does with this one. She looks on each of these trips as an opportunity.

"There is so much out there to learn and so many people to meet," she said. She encourages him to take advantage of the situation and accomplish as much as he can.

And he has. Aside from his first sergeant duties, his days are also packed with extracurricular events from sun-up to sun-down. Whether it be intramural football games, one of the many runs sponsored on the base or getting out and seeing the local area, she said he keeps himself busy.

"It helps pass the time for him as well," she said.

His family here is hoping the next few weeks will pass quickly for them as well, until they can all be reunited.

"Someone has to be there. If it wasn't him it would be someone else," she said. "Still, we can't wait to have him home."