This past weekend, I was lucky enough to have my mom come to visit. Most of my family lives on the other side of the globe, so time together is treasured. As my mom was here and I was showing her some of my favorite spots, I appreciated the time together as we laughed and enjoyed some great meals while catching up. During her visit, I was reminded of how military families are displaced from their own family members and friends.
There is nothing more special than the bonds of our Army family, but there is something special that comes from your roots — whether it be your family members or those friends you grew up with that are nothing short of what family is and means.
Military life can sometimes keep us close to our family members if we are lucky. It may just mean an assignment or two, but being close to our loved ones is a luxury when it comes to Army life. Other times, this service-driven nomadic lifestyle keeps us hundreds or thousands of miles away from our family and friends. As military spouses, there are many times where it would be nice to be closer to your family and friends — when you need an extra hand or to celebrate the special occasions and holidays. But the life of supporting your service member is worth the distance, because that distance is filled with pride that comes in the colors of red, white and blue.
For those family members that are close, it is something special to have them come visit or vice versa. For those family members that are further away, it makes you reminisce when you are together. It allows you to value the time you spend together. It also gives you the opportunity to celebrate and make new memories.
The sacrifice of distance from our loved ones is something military families navigate day in and day out. Sometimes, I think we become better at managing the deployments of our service members than we manage the distance from our families. At least, that’s how I feel every now and then.
Military life is a blend of adventure, growth, love and friendship to name a few. It can be lonely at times and you can feel disconnected from your roots. I listen to stories and notice social media posts from military spouses on the difficulty they feel being so far away from their folks, siblings and friends who are family.
As we head into the month of November and remember all the things we are grateful for, I smile thinking of the family traditions that I grew up with or the ones that my husband grew up with that we incorporate in our own lives. As I celebrate gratitude, the traditions of each of our families shines through even in my case, where we currently have oceans between us.
This week, I encourage you to reminisce, remember and maybe even recreate some of those traditions, whether your family is near or far. Each of you have your own traditions born from your family and friends. Celebrate them. Treasure them. Pass them on.
Since this month is all about being thankful, I offer up a huge debt of gratitude to my family and to all the moms and dads out there — biological, step, stunt, bonus and all those parental figures in my lives and all of yours — thank you! Thank you for the being the light and love. “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
Reena O’Brien is an Army spouse and Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.