The Canadian Armed Forces is moving into another season of more frequent deployments.
At least, that’s what the news is making us think. Not that deployments ever stopped being a thing, but it looks like they might happen a little more frequently for a larger number of the Forces than has been the case the last few years.
Or not. I mean, if the army has taught me anything it’s we’ll see when it happens.
Either way, there are several friends of ours who have see you laters happening this summer.
Since for Dh we are very much in a holding pattern deployment wise, just waiting for a phone call that may or may not come, I find myself feeling a little helpless as I watch other families prepare. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like we are on the sidelines to a deployment.
So I decided to make myself feel useful by putting together some care package gift baskets. I figure there are some things that a little too much experience in deployment has taught me can be helpful to have. More than anything, though, it’s just nice to know someone is thinking of you, and that’s the point more than anything else. They may never need a candle, but they’ll remember someone took the time to put something together to acknowledge things hurt sometimes.
Using some hints from Jo My Gosh, who has an amazing number of crazy creative care package ideas, I put together a list of things that I thought would be helpful and I set out to the store.
Admittedly, I started at the liquor store. I grabbed a bottle of red for the center of each basket. This gift works two ways: one day you might want a glass (or 3), or one day you might get invited somewhere for dinner and at the last minute panic with “I have nothing to bring!” In which case, you have a bottle of wine to bring. Hostess gift done.
I 100% encourage regifting. You do what you have to do, baby.
I went to the dollar store and grocery store after that. I grabbed a few baskets, and then went and grabbed some paper plates. More than half of the recipients of the baskets don’t have kids and I just think that sometimes you just don’t friggin feel like dealing with dishes. Especially if people are coming over and you can’t be bothered to fill the dishwasher twice. Paper plates: totally acceptable alternative to cleaning.
From there I grabbed a glass for the wine and went straight to the chocolate. Because you guys. That’s obvious.
Also on the list, inspired by Jo and her ‘preemptive care packages‘, I included some padded envelopes, a permanent marker and pen with paper for sending their member moral mail.
I found these Kleenex packets and I absolutely love them and the sentiment that they have so they were next on the list.
After that it was the drug store where I grabbed some candles and bubble bath. To be used with or without the wine. And for those with kids, just keep your ears underwater and you don’t have to hear them screaming on the other side of the door.
I added a quick book, a devotional for those interested and for the others something different but still uplifting.
I threw all these items together into the baskets I bought with tissue paper that I’m sure I left in shape to be reused when that party invite is forgotten until 5 minutes before and they need something to shove in the gift bag.
Then I tied it all up in a plastic basket wrap from the dollar store with some pretty ribbon. I’m not Jo and this is literally as fancy as I get. Presentation is not my thing.
Each one of these baskets was heading to a friend in a different stage of life. The members have different jobs, though this time they were all combat trades their ranks ranged from Corporal to General and everything in between. They are heading to different places. They’ll be doing very different things. Out on their first deployment to their fifth, ranging from 6 month absences to twelve months.
And the spouse’s the baskets went to, they had everything from no kids to 4. Empty-nesters to newlyweds. One has family moving in. Some have family living in the city. Some have no family nearby.
And yet this month they are all in the same boat. They are all holding tight and hiding from the goodbye’s that will have to be said and the months will pass for all of them while they will miss the one they love the most.
They may seem very different but deployment is a great equalizer.
Dh and I have 4 overseas deployments behind us and countless domestic deployments, taskings and courses. His first deployment I was childless but pregnant. The 2nd I had a toddler. The 3rd I gave birth to my 3rd child halfway through. The 4th I finally had one old enough to babysit. That’s as far as I’ve gotten in this.
Let me tell you the things that I’ve found make things easier:
- The occasional glass of wine with said friends
- Practical preparation
Now let me tell you the things I have found that do not make it easier:
- Embroidery on patches/words in front of names
- Pretending to be superwoman/man
- Number of deployments behind you
- Having kids
- Not having kids
I think we spend too much time convincing ourselves that the grass is greener. Maybe at a different rank level things will go smoother. Maybe the 5th deployment will be easier than the 2nd. Obviously if you had kids you’d be less lonely. Or if you didn’t have kids you’d be less tired. Maybe if you pretend you don’t need anyone you’ll eventually convince yourself.
Friends, none of these things are true.
The truth is that deployments are just hard.
So we may as well treat every single one with the love, bubble baths and chocolate that it deserves.
Leave a comment and let me know what you would like to have seen in a basket before deployment!