Christmas, December 2005. Ramadi was actually a little bit cold. I know everyone in CONUS thinks that Iraq is the land of the perpetually parching sun, but it isn't. It gets cold...not the kind of cold you'd find in Minnesota, but cold enough to be just miserable enough and wanting badly to be huddled in your woobie watching Gilmore Girls on your personal DVD player. God Lorelai was hot.Especially at 2:30 a.m. on some random December morning as you're making your way through dark and eerily lit streets. We'd come around a corner, our driver would have his night vision goggles whited out by a random incandescent bulb. I would have to leave the mild comfort of the Humvee to shoot it out with a BB gun while our gunner maintained security. Two minutes later, I'd be out again, this time joined with ten or so other Marines as we went house to house in the middle of the night.Inevitably we'd find some shady shit either in the houses or along the roads as we drove. It was Ramadi in 2005 after all. Whether waiting for EOD to come out or processing a detainee, time seemed to drag on and on and on. The cold barren night seemed as unending as it was unforgiving.I still remember where I was when Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day, hopping from one rooftop to another, searching houses in a "block party" as we called it.Back at the hooch, there were Christmas decorations, packages and mail to open, but it wasn't really Christmas and yet, it was. I was surrounded by family. A different family but a family nonetheless. We laughed and joked despite the constant mortar attacks. We drank hot cocoa and enjoyed what few Christmas traditions we could amidst the echoes of AK and M-16/M-4 fire as one of our sister companies engaged the enemy.Looking back...it was the best Christmas I never had.