Care Packages for the Holidays

I can’t turn on the television right now without seeing something about the holiday season. My favorite fake commercial is the one on the carrier, with the deployed dad skyping with his wife and young son, the young son who then goes and pulls a beautiful piece of jewelry from the tree and presents it to his mother. Way to use the military to sell more jewelry! I wonder if they donate a percentage of their profits to the military? :)

I was struggling to come up with a blog topic for this week, so I opened it up to my facebook friends and got some great ideas. Stay tuned for next week’s blog, discussing pregnancy and birth while your spouse is deployed. But today we will be talking about holiday care packages! One of my dear friends, a¬†fellow military spouse, put together a “25 Days of Christmas” care package for her husband. In college I did something similar and bought my boyfriend twenty-one gifts for his twenty-first birthday. Note that I said boyfriend, and not husband. We didn’t last, and I haven’t done a numerically significant gift since then. Haha!

Her idea is great though: a few items that would count as actual Christmas gifts, but some of the others were silly, or fun, pictures of the family, artwork their toddler had done. She did say it was a little difficult to find all twenty-five small, inexpensive items. Anyone have a good idea for someone putting a box like this together?

It’s so wonderful when people offer to put together a package for your deployed family member. I know I say this in every blog, but if you’re not married to the military member, you don’t know just how exciting it is for them to get a package, or a card, in the mail. The difficult part is when they ask what to send. It’s so easy to rattle off their favorite snacks (in our case, it seems to be that I always quickly respond with: “beef jerky and double-stuffed oreos” my poor husband will never want to eat either of those things again after he’s out of the military!), but what about other, more meaningful things? A hand-written letter, a picture done by his niece, a holiday card, etc. Why don’t I think to respond with book titles, or tea, since they’re always getting sick? I wonder if anyone has created a master list online of the best things to send in a care package.

There’s also the care packages that come from the deployed party. A few years ago, one of my best friends mailed a recordable ornament to my husband, for him to record a message and send back to me. What an awesome idea!!!! It’s not like he could go to Hallmark and pick one out. Speaking of Hallmark: every year my husband gives me some sort of meaningful ornament. The first year we were together it was Lady and the Tramp, as he was still courting me, and I am most certainly a lady. ;) The next year it was Beauty and the Beast…wow, I’m starting to think that he has me on a pedestal! The following year it was Thumper and his lady-friend. So this year I have told him that all I want is an ornament. That way, I know he has to look at all of the ornaments online, pick out the one that means the most to him/us, and then have someone back home go and get it. The amount of thought that goes into that makes my heart beat with joy.

The USO provided a box of recordable “The Night Before Christmas” books that my husband recorded and is sending home for our daughter. I secretly know that it will be me listening to it late at night, probably crying. :)

Since my husband is currently in a place where camels are a native animal, he sent home a stuffed animal camel for our daughter. I couldn’t wait until Christmas once I saw it, and she immediately started kissing it (at nine months old, that really means something!). It was the perfect gift for her.

A few things to remember: shipping anywhere overseas takes a LOT of time, especially around the holidays. The USPS recommends that you ship by December 10th in order to ensure a Christmas delivery. Oh, and as of November 15th, they have lifted the lithium battery ban, so you can ship iPods/kindles/etc.

Anything to add? Post it here!