Maj. Scott Ebel

For Maj. Scott Ebel of North St. Paul, spending the holidays away from home is hard, but something he's willing to do.

"I know in my heart that it is a relatively short period in my life," he wrote from Iraq. "And a small price to pay if we all can enjoy freedom."

To Ebel, a graduate of North High School and St. Cloud State University who went on to become a real estate salesman for WHY USA Metro Brokers, the holidays just aren't the same overseas.

"Being in an entirely different climate with no snow will not seem like the holidays back home," he wrote. "I usually spend time with family, but will still make the best of it."

So far, Ebel said he's stayed relatively safe in Iraq. The violence where he's deployed, at an air base in southern Iraq, is pretty low, he said. Most of the danger is on the roads, and Ebel's been lucky enough not have to do much traveling.

For him, Christmas will be mainly business as usual, with some simple celebrations.

"They usually put together a very nice meal for all the soldiers to enjoy. Attending church will certainly be a ... relaxing way to spend some time during the holiday season. Enjoying an evening meal with comrades and friends will be the extent of Christmas in Iraq," he wrote.

Although Ebel says that staying in contact with relatives and friends back home is pretty easy for the soldiers, sometimes he finds it easier on himself not to stay in touch as rigorously as others.

"It is sometimes easier not to call so I can focus on what I have to do here and not get caught day-dreaming about what is going on back at home," he wrote.

And Ebel said that being in Iraq has helped him appreciate what he has at home that much more.

"Being away from family and friends during the holidays makes me appreciate all the blessing I have received and helps me to be just a little more thankful for each and every day," he wrote.

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