Try as we may to keep Christ in Christmas, our society is anything but inoculated from a culture of commercialism. To watch and read some of the business media, it's a patriotic duty to $pend, $pend, $pend because so much of the nation's economic well being depends on fourth quarter results. Not that treating loved ones to gifts as expressions of your gratefulness to them is wrong. However . . . speaking of patriotism and gratefulness: In normal times it is difficult to focus on people far away; when indulgence is part of a seasonal culture, a proper focus on others who deserve it simply evaporates into the obliviousness of self. Those who deserve our focus — our prayers and props — are our brave military fighting a vicious enemy on many fronts (Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, parts of Asia and others) and their families at home.

Two excellent ways to provide them encouragement have come to our attention. One is www.letssaythanks.com, where you can, with three easy clicks, send a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine a card. Xerox sponsors it. You simply pick out a design and greeting (or write your own) and send. Xerox the prints the card, picks a deployed member to receive it, and mails it at its own expense.

Also, this Saturday, December 22, Richmond's Morning News Weekend Edition, hosted by Scott and Richard Lee, will air a special Patriot Radio segment. The show airs from 6:00-8:00 a.m. on WRVA-AM/1140, or can be heard at www.wrva.com. Simply call during the Patriot Radio segment (804-345-1140) and your special wish will be posted at www.wrva.com and at www.theleebrothers.com for our military to listen to at their convenience.

Even if you can't call on Saturday, send an e-mail to patriots@theleebrothers.com with your Christmas wishes. Include the name of your friend or family member, his or her unit, and where he or she is serving and the Lee Brothers will record the message for you.While it can't make up for them not being at home, these two simple actions — and dozens of others available to act upon — can go a long way toward escaping from our own seclusion of self and awaken us to the bravery and patriotism of our military, and the gratefulness all of us owe them.