This past Sunday, our unit had a shift of gift wrapping at the Post Exchange to raise funds for the Family Readiness Group. It was a great way to give back this holiday season while raising money for our Army families.

It was also great to see all the smiling faces of the shoppers as they picked out the perfect gift for their friends and family.

Many of you have been busy with different Army holiday events. There are holiday luncheons and dinners. There are cookie exchanges and ugly sweater competitions. There are office decorating competitions and Secret Santa gift exchanges. Whether it be for your brigade, battalion, company or just your coffee group, there is something so special about the holiday season. Even as busy as everyone is making their lists and checking them twice, the bright lights, decorations and holiday cheer is infectious.

As I celebrated the Christmas season with the different members of our Army family, my heart was full. It was fantastic to see so many people getting together, laughing and sharing holiday stories and traditions. It was a welcome sight to see so many of the family members from our unit show up to celebrate the season with each other.

We celebrated with the brigade at a lovely holiday lunch at Club Hood. It was a fantastic meal, watching colleagues and friends share in the holiday spirit.

We celebrated with our battalion with a pot luck filled with food and desserts made with love. Food, fellowship and fun all around to ring in the holiday season.

As we celebrate here at home, we must remember to keep those deployed and their families close to our hearts. This is a time when family of those separated can have a hard time. If you have folks in your unit, or from a previous unit, who are deployed or geographically-separated from their families, check in with them. Check in with their loved ones. It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday rush; take a moment to let them know you care.

Last week, we had the last get together of 2017 for our coffee group. It was a joint event with our brigade and I just thought to myself how lucky I was to be surrounded by strong and kind women. Women who look out for each other. Women who care for each other. Women who laugh together. Women who give advice at the perfect time. Women who show you what being an Army family really means.

I am sure many of you feel the same way. I hope all of you have already gotten the chance to celebrate with your Army families, but some of you may have to wait until after the holidays due to different scheduling conflicts.

But take the time to celebrate each other. Take the time to check in and connect. Take the time to share love and laughter with each other.

Our everyday lives get busy and, often times, the once-a-month coffee get together provides the opportunity to get to know each other and keep tabs on each other. It also allows for discussions and the sharing of ideas, or just be a listening ear as we navigate this Army life.

So as you share this holiday season with friends and family, enjoy the time to be together, share stories and laughter, celebrate family traditions and start some new ones. And keep those who are separated while serving this great nation this holiday season in your hearts and prayers.

Merry and Happy Everything!

Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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