Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and have to remind myself where we are currently living. Since marrying my soldier, I’ve celebrated the new year in 13 different duty stations. For some of those celebrations, my soldier was celebrating with other soldiers thousands of miles away from home.
My most memorable, recent passing of the new year was spent on Whipple Field, Joint-Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. I requested permission from post security to go out on the field to photograph Washington, D.C., at close to midnight on New Year’s Eve. We lived on Fort Myer at that time, and I knew the view was spectacular.
It was a chilly night, with a light wind. My family was tucked in at home, as I stood alone on the field, working to get my camera settings right.
I waved to security personnel as they drove past in their cars. Since I had stopped into their office before heading out to the field, they knew who I was, and why I was there. I wanted to capture the moment that the new year hit our nation’s capital.
As the midnight hour neared, celebrations popped up in suburbs around the city. I could see lights on some of the facilities with rooftop bars. When the 12 o’clock bells rang, there wasn’t a large fireworks display actually in the capital city, but there were plenty of fireworks popping up in other towns on that side of the river.
The sky was mostly clear and the sight was beautiful. I finally shot my photos and returned home early that New Year’s Day morning.
Sitting on that field wasn’t a big party experience for me. I wasn’t with a big group of people, wearing silly hats and glasses, blowing horns or popping balloons.
I was alone, with my camera, sitting on a field, waiting to capture a photograph. I celebrated earlier with my family, but they understood how important it was to me to photograph that moment in time.
After prepping my camera, while waiting for the fireworks to begin, I had some time to think about where we’ve been for other New Year’s celebrations.
Years ago, after finding out our first born son was deaf, the Marsillo family took us under their wings. They were both deaf, working on post, befriended us and taught us sign language and shared their deaf culture with us. We spent a very chilly New Year’s Eve with them, partying with two other deaf couples at their house.
My husband and I had only been learning sign language for six months at that point, so we had an interesting time trying to keep up in conversation with the other three couples at the party, all of whom were deaf.
We all stood outside and watched as the fireworks exploded in the sky. I felt as if God had brought us there, at that point of our military lives, to meet these people when we needed them most.
Several times now, my soldier and I have been separated as the new year passed, due to his service and deployments.
For reasons only military families might understand, I think I’ve blocked those days of “celebration” from my mind. I can’t really remember them. Chances are pretty good I watched a movie with my boys, then went to bed early, reading a book.
I don’t know what the new year will bring our way. Still riding the military-life roller coaster, most years we just throw our hands up and think, “Here we go! Another year!” Sometimes we find it’s not helpful to think and plan too much, but better to cope with each change as it comes our way.
This has taught me, as I have taught our sons, to be strong, adaptable and resourceful. If it weren’t for the many military moves and changes we’ve been through, we wouldn’t have met some very special people.
We would have missed out on some great experiences. I wouldn’t have been able to sit on Whipple Field and photograph Washington, D.C., as the fireworks exploded in surrounding towns.
Knowing we’ll face changes in the upcoming year, I will count my blessings, make another resolution to lose weight, and just pray that we make it through whatever comes our way.
To quote Oprah Winfrey, as she posted on her Facebook page on Jan. 3, 2012, “Cheers to a new year, and another chance for us to get it right.”
Yes! Cheers to yet another new year!