I was deployed in war zones over a couple of Christmases while in the military and the CIA, was stationed in Europe for a Christmas, and I would dare to say that nearly 100 percent of veterans have faced similar Christmases (and other holidays) away from friends and family, and away from their homes in America. While stuck in the snows of Kosovo, or the mountains of Afghanistan, one of the things that always kept me tethered to my family, Christmases in the States, and to the “real” world in general, was Christmas music.

I am a sap for Christmas music. I admit it. I listen to songs from my childhood, and I am instantly warmed by thoughts of Christmas mornings, eggnog, and time with family. This was especially heightened when I listened to Christmas music in a war zone. Now that I have kids, I have built a whole new set of songs that carry meaning for me and my family, as we have listened to them year after year since my sons were born.

On that note, I would recommend to all the readers of SOFREP that you take an hour or two this holiday season to make a good ole’ fashioned mix CD (old school!) and send it to a service member deployed overseas. They will hopefully take as much comfort from, and find as much joy in, the familiar tunes as I did while serving far from home.

To help you with this endeavor, I offer the following list as a suggested starting place for a mix. These are all modern, and all great songs. Disclaimer: Ever since I bought their first Christmas song while in Afghanistan in 2006, I have been hooked on The Killers’ annual charity Christmas album. So there are lots of their songs in here. You’re welcome!