“I’ll be home for Christmas”

Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Sharp sits down with his wife, Kristen, to enjoy some time home Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Sharp has been aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable for the past holiday seasons and was glad to have some time home later during Christmas. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup)

Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Sharp sits down with his wife, Kristen, to enjoy some time home Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Sharp has been aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable for the past holiday seasons and was glad to have some time home later during Christmas. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup

Every year, families wake from their beds and go to their Christmas trees to see what Santa has brought them. It could be a new video game, the latest gadget or perhaps a beautiful sweater from grandma.

For Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Sharp, the best present Santa gave him is Christmas at home.

Stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable, Roger has missed almost every major holiday along with the rest of the crew of the Dependable the past few years. Sitting down with his wife as their two daughters play, 2-year-old Ella and 20-month-old Charlotte, Roger and his wife Kristen talk about missing the holidays. They were already setting up the living room in November for Christmas.

Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Sharp works with his charts while aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Sharp has been aboard the Dependable for the past holiday seasons and was glad to have some time home during Christmas. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup)

Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Sharp works with his charts while aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Sharp has been aboard the Dependable for the past holiday seasons and was glad to have some time home during Christmas. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup)

“We’ve already put the Christmas tree up,” said Roger, pointing to the tree in the corner of their living room. “It’s important for our girls to grow up putting the Christmas tree up with the whole family and getting into the traditions my wife and I grew up with. It gets them excited and keeps those traditions alive.”

“I want him to be able to enjoy it, to decorate with us,” said Kristen. “When he’s not home, I feel like Christmas is just another day. I’m more sad for the girls, though, and more sad for him, too. I still get to see the girls open their gifts, but he misses out on all of that.”

Roger’s return back to the ship on Halloween was especially hard for the couple as Kristen found herself sick and in the ER. While her family arrived to watch the children, Roger stayed up all night on the ship waiting for updates, unable to know his wife’s condition.

“You can only get calls while you’re close to land, and internet can be spotty,” said Roger. “You want to be there for your family, so you stay up all night, constantly checking your email or waiting for a call. You never want to get that news. Every patrol, though, someone gets that news.

During patrols, Roger works as a Operations Specialist within the Combat Information Center. From within the CIC, Roger reports on all activity in the area and passes it up to the command.Home for the Holidays

At home, however, things are quite different. Whenever Roger returns home, the military life aboard the Dependable fades away to his very different home life. Such simple things as taking out the trash, washing the dishes and going out to eat with his daughters are initially challenging.

“If you want to go out somewhere with the kids, it’s going to take time,” said Roger. “You try to plan accordingly but sometimes you’re just like, ‘Why can’t it just go smoothly like it does on the boat?’”

The initial frustration eventually wanes within the first few days, and soon Roger is happy just watching kids shows or playing with his daughters, giving his wife a chance to sleep in and Roger a chance to just be a dad.

This year, Roger will have an uncommon chance to spend Christmas at home. For his wife, it makes the holiday truly alive again.

“When they leave, especially for Christmas, you don’t even feel like celebrating,” says Kristen “It was like the spirit was gone. But this year we’re bringing him back home. I’m very excited!”

For Roger, nothing could be more wonderful than to be home for Christmas. Amidst all the presents, gifts, food and toys, in the end, to the Sharp family, being together is what matters most.