The upcoming Holidays are traditionally a time for families to be together and enjoy the spirit of the season. This year will be more difficult for families of soldiers stationed overseas. As a member of a caring community of people we often wish there was something we could do to make it easier. There is. Here are 6 ways that you can make a difference this Holiday season.
- Baby-sit for Christmas shopping – If you have small children, you know how hard it is to do secret shopping while they’re tagging along. Offer an afternoon of babysitting, at your house, so Mom can get the Christmas shopping done. This will let her make good use of the time, sneak the packages into the house, and even get them wrapped without the curiosity of little ones around.
- Take a child shopping – When a child reaches about the age of 8 they often save their own money to buy a special gift for their parent. Most of the time, one spouse shops with the child for the other parent’s gift. This is made more difficult when only one parent is home. As a neighbor, offer to take the kids to the mall to pick out their parent’s gifts, and even offer to pay for the wrapping. Then the gift can be a real surprise.
- Volunteer opportunities – Get involved in helping the organizations that support the efforts of those stationed away. It might be collecting school supplies, making Christmas ornaments to send, or helping out the Red Cross. It’s a great feeling.
- Community Festival – One town put up a tree in the town square complete with lights. Each family who had a loved one overseas during the Holidays was invited to make some ornaments for the tree. Most of them were made by children or depicted photos of the soldiers and their families. On one night the town hosted a party for everyone and the families adorned the tree with the ornaments amid the celebration of the community remembrance.
- Christmas Cookies – Being the sole caretaker of a family during the Holidays leaves precious little time for extra activities…like baking! So, you bake 10 dozen decorated Christmas cookies and deliver a couple dozen to the homes of military families. Last Thanksgiving, a neighbor delivered a homemade pumpkin pie…complete with a can of whipped cream…to each home.
- Don’t ever forget – No matter how you feel politically, remember that the people serving for you overseas are your neighbors. Keep them in your hearts and be a part of the events to welcome them home. In a North Dakota community, one of their citizens parked his pickup truck at the end of the airport runway every time even one soldier returned. He sat in the bed of the truck, in all kinds of weather, and waved a flag to welcome each plane. In over a year, he hasn’t missed a single soldiers’ return.