Friday Correspondence: Holidays Away from Home

With the holidays fast approaching, my mind turns toward the families who are missing deployed loved ones.  Toward the deployed who are missing loved ones back home.
These days we’re fortunate to have such things as Skype and e-mail to better keep in touch, but even so, there are service members who remain unattainable.  Due to the nature of a mission, or perhaps for being encapsulated in a submarine deep below, sometimes communication is once again slow in nature.
Image and excerpt courtesy of War-Letters.com
PVT. Philip White, who was in France during Christmas of 1945, often wrote to his young daughter, Jackalyn.  With Christmas Day being no exception, I can only begin to imagine how badly the distance between Philip and his family must have felt during such cold and dire days.

Dear Jackie,

I sure would have liked to been there and seen your face when you saw your new doll this morning.  I hope the one Daddy sent got there on time.  If not I know you will enjoy it just as much when it does finally come.  I also hope it has real hair and is just what you like.  When daddy does get home, he will let you pick out one, to your liking.

I hope Santa treated your pretty good this year. I heard him say that maybe he would get you a pair of skis. you must be careful of these skis and not get in the road. Daddy didn’t go down to the Red Cross for the Christmas Tree. The boys have just brought to Kids up here to see a movie. They are real cute and clean. I now that I had gone.
N.Y – N.Y.
Wed. morning
I didn’t get this finished last night so will close and mail now. We aren’t leaving until 5:00 P.M. Most of the boys are pulling out at 10:00 A.M. I think that you will be able to find Heidelburg on the maps because it is a good size city. A Nazi stronghold and the home of Heidelberg University. I have written this once before but this once may get them first
All my Love
Philip.
Reading PVT. White’s letter*, the affection for his family pours through every word, and I find myself hoping and praying that he had a safe homecoming.  While I read no suggestion of when he came home, his letters do indicate that he survived the war, as the last of the lot is dated in 1946 (official end date of WWII is September 2, 1945).
Indeed, I find nothing wrong in allowing myself the image of Jackalyn enveloped in a long-overdue hug from her father, as the entire family gathers around Philip at his homecoming.
*A portion of PVT. White’s letter has been excerpted from this post, but can be found in its entirety at the letter’s website.

Bringing Home Movies Back

Tonight I finally unloaded all of the videos off my Flip.  It was heartwarming, to say least.  Movies of my son, barely a year old and scrambling after the cats.  Toward the end I noticed only two recent videos, both featuring our two kids playing with their daddy in a sea of toys.

It’s a bit disappointing that the past eight or so months have been devoid of any new home movies.  Realizing that my daughter’s crucial first year has gone by with barely any video footage is a sad thing.  I’m resolved from now on to keep the camera at hand, lest we one day simply be left with, “Remember when they were little…”

Especially with Hubs set to deploy some time in the upcoming months, I’d like nothing more than to send him off with a hard drive or DVD full of our recent memories as a family.

Our first deployment was by no means fun, but it was at least bearable for our son, who was a little over a year old at the time.  Between Skype and keeping Daddy in the conversation while he was gone, E never really skipped a beat.

Ah, but now E is two-and-a-half, and Daddy is his world.  At nine months old, our daughter is also extremely aware of the comfort she finds with her dad.

In no way am I looking forward to putting those children to bed that first night with Hubs away.

Yes, the camera will stay on.  Not only for him, but for us back at home.

While it will be nice for us to see our previous romps and interactions on the TV, and we’ll be mostly dependent on Skype to keep in touch, I feel like there is more to be done for our children.  I’m paranoid that as the months go by, they’ll figure out that Daddy in the TV is not someone to be interacted with.

Now, really.  What am I suppose to do for these children who seemingly believe that the sun shines out of their dad’s posterior?

Keeping with the theme of video, the USO program United Through Reading seems like a good place to start. The program invites deployed parents to have themselves recorded while reading a book to their child.  The USO will then have the video mailed to the child, who can then share story time with their deployed loved one.

While United Through Reading is isn’t available at every deployment site, it is available at quite a few.  It’s worth giving your base or post library a call to see if they partake in the program, or if they provide similar services before your spouse deploys.  My husband tends to err on the shy side, so we’ll be recording our interactive reading experience here at home.

What a fortunate thing it is to live in an era where technology can assist families in feeling close to one another when they’re oceans apart.  It’s the thought of that upcoming distance that will help keep my memory-keeping habits in check.