Yearning for '1st Christmas together'

November 18, 1990|By Ellen Uzelac

HINESVILLE, Ga. -- A few weeks ago, newlywed Jane Efinger-Hayden mailed her husband an 18-inch artificial Christmas tree strung with fake pearls and dangling hearts and an ornament that says it all: "Our First Christmas Together."

The last time the 32-year-old Mrs. Efinger-Hayden saw her husband was at noon on Aug. 24 through a fence at a Savannah, Ga., airfield as Sgt. 1st Class Daniel R. Hayden departed for Saudi Arabia. Hours earlier, the feisty secretary had a priest bless Sergeant Hayden's St. Christopher medal and dog tags: There was no reason, she figured, not to cover the bases.

"I've gotten 53 letters so far," said Mrs. Efinger-Hayden, who writes her husband daily. "Three phone calls, one roll of film, a message in the local paper, a military telegram and a flower delivery for my birthday. One day recently, he wrote that sometimes when he's alone in the early morning, and if it's a pretty sunrise, he'll say good morning to me aloud. Those are the letters you live for."

The Haydens, who had dated for two years, married in a ceremony over the telephone in December when Sergeant Hayden was posted in Korea. This was to have been their first married Christmas.

This week, Mrs. Efinger-Hayden will join thousands of other military wives in the mess halls at Fort Stewart to share Thanksgiving dinner. For Christmas -- well, she doesn't even want to think about Christmas.

"This was going to be our year," she said. "I'd already bought a black beaded bag for New Year's Eve. The holidays are going to be hard. I know my husband was given a job to do -- that's how I'm supposed to feel about it. He chose the military, and I chose him. But what you feel in your heart is different, and what I feel in my heart a lot of the time is worry."

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