Right now we have approximately 120,000 troops deployed to various locations overseas. The Holidays are difficult enough when your family can’t be together, but they are made even more difficult when there’s concern about the safety of loved ones. During the Holidays most people go out of their way to remember the soldiers abroad. That’s great! But I’m here to tell you how you can help make this time easier for families at home missing soldiers.
The following ideas were inspired by or taken from the book “I’m Already Home – Keeping your family close when you’re on TDY”. Military wives offered these suggestions:
Christmas Shopping with young children – “When both parents are around, it’s easy to slip away to shop for the kids. When it’s suddenly a single parent home, it’s hard. I’d like a friend to offer to watch my kids for an afternoon so I can go buy their toys. Here’s the catch – take them to YOUR house. Why? Because then I can sneak the gifts into the house and even wrap them without being bothered.”
Shopping with older kids – Joyce has 2 children, eight and 10 years old. “Traditionally, I would take the kids shopping so they could buy their own gifts with their own money, for my husband. Then he would take them out to shop for me. Now he’s not home. I’d love someone to offer to take the kids to the mall so they can secretly buy their special gifts for me.”
Don’t forget me – The Holidays can get lonely. Others assume that you want to be left alone so you may get fewer social invitations. Actually, people probably don’t know what to say to make it better so they feel awkward. Include the spouse in appropriate events and let each decide how and when they want to be involved.
How about some nice gifts for a family that will be spending the Holidays apart:
Do you have pictures of their family that they might not have?
- Make copies and put them together in a collage, photo album or even a monthly calendar. The funnier the better for this time of year.
- Have the soldier’s photo put on a coffee mug for morning time “together”.
- Make pictures into refrigerator magnets.
- Glue photos onto an 11X17 piece of paper in a fun way and decorate it. Then laminate your work of art and give to kids as placemats.
Go to a craft shop and make a fun, personalized rubber stamp that has a child’s name on it. He/she can use it to “stamp” every letter written to the deployed parent.
See how easy? Use some of these fun suggestions to get started, and then YOU think of some other creative ways to make the Holidays warmer for someone close to you.
I’m Already Home was released by Elaine Dumler in September 2003. So far more than 20,000 copies have been sold. It’s been sponsored into military family support groups and has been presented to First Lady Laura Bush! In March 2006 an expanded, updated edition was released called I’m Already Home…Again and is available at www.ImAlreadyHome.com and www.Amazon.com.