A friend was talking about a hail and farewell she recently attended. She laughed about the farewell of a junior officer, about whom it was widely known (even to him) that he was somewhat worthless to his unit, never knew which way was up and always was two steps behind.
Sometimes, I feel like as military families — no matter how on the ball we are — there always is something that is dropped, that we are always a step or two behind those spouses and families who have perfect care packages and send holiday cards on time. I’ve seen that miraculous illusion. It does exist.
The thing is that among the sea of holiday cards arriving and goodie baskets making their way around classrooms, on any given day one of us easily can be the most put-together, organized one or be a mess of a human, running late and dropping the roles that we carry so heavily on our shoulders.
Accept that — and be willing to step up to help a friend when you are able.
When family often is so far away and we bear the many burdens of the holiday season, it can be difficult to remember to take a few moments to celebrate our families’ little victories: the successful two lines in the Christmas play as second lobster, the cookies that aren’t burnt or eaten by the dog, the packages that arrive on time to family and friends across the country, the ornaments that aren’t shattered by little fingers and the days that end in laughs and not tears.
Even for those spouses and military families whose husbands and fathers are home, carrying the load of primary caregiver in addition to whatever “real life” responsibilities we all have can be a challenge. This holiday season – like any other – brings stress of missed and overworked loved ones, travel to or hosting family and friends and the other end-of-year hustle and bustle.
There are plenty of changes coming to our military families in the next year – budget cuts, who knows what sort of military interventions or alarms will be raised, what sort of challenges we will face. Celebrate the little moments and the year, and remember the real reason for the season. It isn’t about getting the latest, greatest gadget or the shiny new toy. It is about celebrating with friends and family and giving joy and love to those near and far. It could be with a handwritten note or a surprise plate of cookies, but send love and good wishes this season, and start 2014 with a happy heart.
Hewlett is an Army wife who lives in Richmond Hill.