It’s hard to believe I have been here three months, it’s flown by and it’s been very rewarding work.
Our squadron’s mission is to serve, sustain and support…..All Day, Every Day as our bumper sticker says. As you can imagine, starting with Thanksgiving and right through to New Year’s, what we do is so important to those we are supporting. I came here ready to navigate the holidays without my family…without my joy of cooking and serving the holiday meals…without sharing time with extended family….without attending Christmas Eve church service. No picking out that Christmas tree that say “take me home.” No Yule Log on the TV Christmas Eve while trimming the tree and eating and drinking…plenty. I deployed here ready to stay “emotionally neutral” …. keeping the “missing” and “loneliness” at bay. I still missed my family, but the joy of the holidays filled me like I couldn’t have imagined and prepared myself for.
When your goal is to provide respite from the stress and work of performing a mission. When you are able to bring folks pleasure, make them feel connected, share time together and be thankful….and thousands do…WOW! It was truly as “magical” as the season can be. We didn’t need endless weeks of holiday music, or decorations up starting the day after Thanksgiving. A few days before Christmas, you started to see stockings hung over railings, holiday BBQs by squadrons and units, folks in santa suits…all in great contrast to our desert base with nothing on the horizon but brown sand.
I strive at home to be grateful for all the love and wealth of family and friends I have, to be giving and supporting. I was thrilled I could send money to my church so that two of my church friends could go shopping on my behalf for a family in need. I again received a gift of a lama or ox though Heifer International. There is little “I want” and little “I need”. But being here…in my remote, undisclosed location, where everyone has volunteered to serve and be away from their families…all of my goodwill for the season now seems less selfless. You truly know the meaning of “grateful”…and “giving”…and “counting your blessing” when your deployed.
I’m rambling I know, but it’s because of this experience. I raised my hand to be here…specifically to be here during the holidays. I wanted to do my best to help our military members, who deploy more than is fair or reasonable. I wanted to help them feel a bit less lonely and to be able to shift their longing to be home to an enjoyment of being in this moment…in this place, with this “deployed family or community”. And they did. And I am so grateful to be here to help bring that to them and feel it myself.
I’ll never forget Thanksgiving and Christmas 2015 or where I was on New Year’s Eve. And I wonder how the holiday seasons of the future will be and feel like after the privilege of being here.
What I do know is that we must all wish for and pray for peace. My job here and the role it serves needs to end.
~ Wishing for Peace in the New Year and beyond ~