Christmas From Connecticut To Afghanistan

troops homefront christmas
As thousands of American troops spend Christmas away from home, their families are preparing to spend the holidays as best they can. Michelle Miller met one family to see how they are coping.
CBS

Many of us are gathering to celebrate Christmas with our families. But with thousands of Americans serving our country overseas this year, there are a lot of loved ones who could not make it home for the holiday.

CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports on the family of Adam Anderson, who is in Afghanistan with the National Guard.

His wife, Dena Anderson, has her hands full juggling four kids all by herself.

"I'm busy until I go to bed at night. And then when I get up in the morning, I'm busy again," Dena says. "There's no time to wallow in self pity… I have my job to do."

Her husband, Adam, is serving a year in Afghanistan with the National Guard.

In spite of his absence, Dena is determined to make the holiday special for her children. There are plenty of presents under the tree in her home in Windsor, Connecticut.

And there are many more in Afghanistan:

"We sent him eight boxes and he got a Christmas tree and a nativity scene and all of his presents," Dena says. "Honestly, I think it's harder on them than it is on us. He's the one who misses out on the kids' eyes when they run down the stairs and see Santa."

Dena came from a military family and she is well aware of the risks. Her father, Sergeant First Class Wayne Patterson, left for his second tour in Vietnam when she was just six months old.

"He was killed about eight weeks later," Dena says.

She thinks about that when she looks at Austin, who was just nine months old the last time he saw his father.

"I can't worry about the unknown," she says. "I think that if you get bogged down on what may happen and what could happen, then you do get upset and you let that rule you."

But Dena believes God will watch over Adam, who is scheduled to come home this spring.

Not soon enough for seven-year-old Ashley. She's been praying that Santa will deliver a very big present:

"All I want for Christmas is for my daddy to come home," Ashley says, alluding to the popular song. "And I changed the words from 'all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth'… to 'all I want for Christmas is for my dad to come home.'"