If you’ve been a part of this military lifestyle long enough, then you know that there are always ceremonies, farewells, promotions and deployments, among many other celebratory or honoring events. Oftentimes we may feel this obligation to honor the individuals, whether that is our soldier or any other soldier. There is the potential for increased pressure overtime to live up to the next level, and therefore rewarding accordingly. I wonder if we simply put this pressure on ourselves, and feeling as though we need to outdo our last method of approach. Sometimes we tend to pressure ourselves, or our support system, without even realizing it. Since there are more responsibilities, expectations and experiences, we can lose sight of the value of simplicity.
This is where I found myself as our soldier reached another feat in his military career. I scrambled thinking, “What can I get him to show we appreciate him? What can the kids and I gift him with to express our gratitude, and honor all his hard work thus far?” I started to think of last-minute creative ways to express all these thoughts I had conjured up. I even found myself making a call to a recently retired senior leader’s wife. I sought advice for she recommended I give on such a last-minute notice. I projected my personal ideas and then asked hers. After little to no deliberation, she simply responded with, “I think a simple card expressing everything you’ve just told me of how much you appreciate him will be just fine. We just have to keep it simple sometimes, because we have to remember what is most important in life.” Well, and there it was — simplicity. We are very critical and hard on ourselves to live up to an expectation we have put on ourselves. Despite if there have been expressions of what one would like more of, or wish they had more of, the truth is it is usually the most simple, thoughtful gifts that mean the most.
Our soldiers are exposed to many different parts of the world — people, places, cultures and beliefs. Perhaps, sometimes they need a reminder of their center of gravity. It is hard to grasp, as we are usually staying back to care for our personal careers, the children, home, and the logistics of it all. Especially if our soldier shares the things they’ve seen, people they’ve met, and experiences they’ve had and has impacted their way of thinking, beliefs, and new gained perspective of life. It can seem that when they return home, we have a new version of our soldier we are having to relearn or adjust to. Now, this is where we can fall to our own expectations of needing to live up to their developing world outside of the home. Yet, maybe it isn’t so much living up to it or trying to keep up with it. Our soldiers may just need simple reminders of what life truly is about. So photos, cards, letters, pictures, videos and simple gifts and gestures may be all they need.
I understand how we can think the opposite. Especially as we observe how they are growing and maturing in their career. Now, this can take many forms depending on job, rank, location, culture and many other variables. However, would you suggest that as spouses, family, and their comfort and support needs to remain their center of gravity — and that means keeping it simple. We will be tempted to match their tempo, but without saying it (for some) they may prefer their favorite hot meal, little love notes left around, or even pictures and videos that remind them of why they are doing it all in the first place.
So the next time we feel the pressure to live up to the celebratory or honoring event, let’s keep it simple. Let us remind them when, where and why it all started in the first place.
Lori Ann PALOMARES is an Army spouse and a Killeen area resident.