Sending love in the mail, sucks! I mean, the thought is nice. Being able to send something to your loved one to help them feel loved, missed, supported and valuable is great and all, but I would much rather give these things to them in person! You know what I mean?
Here we are a month and a half into this thing and it was time to send a care package. It's my understanding some other spouses have already sent one, maybe even two at this point, but I just didn't see the sense to that, yet. Hubby was really good about buying all his necessities and "must haves" before going onboard, so it didn't really leave a whole lot for us to follow up with. That's the thing with him, he's very self sufficient. If he needs something, he gets it. It's super frustrating around the holidays too because there are not a lot of things he "needs" or "wants" as a gift because he takes care of himself. BUT we always do find our way around it and try to do something creative and from the heart. Same goes for this care package.
The boys, ages 9 and 11, had been asking to put something together for some time. They didn't necessarily have anything in mind, they just wanted to send something to daddy. So I went and got the box and the packaging and started collecting stuff. Some of it mail that came for him from his alumni association, some of it newspaper articles about his ship's deployments, and some of it the kids' artwork from school.
Then I had to really get creative and let him know we missed him and wanted to bring a smile to his face because we know what his days must feel like too, being stuck on that big grey floating thing for weeks at a time. He often referred to his ship life as "ground hog day". I can't even imagine the misery. As much as he loves the ocean, he much prefers to enjoy it from the beach!!! So we found some cool beachy themed scrapbooking paper and decorated the inside of it to hopefully give him a sense of home and happiness. Here is how we did that.
Once we decorated the inside of the box we wanted to write a message on it. So given that there were four flaps on the box, we wanted it to have four words. That was easy: WE MISS YOU DADDY.
We printed off the text from a word processing program and glued them on each flap.
Now came the fun part. THE CONTENTS! With each care package we wanted to include some cards, so we picked out three. One from me, one from each of the boys. We wrote our own personal message on them and put them inside. We also included some pictures of our perspective of the ship leaving the pier, some fun knock-knock jokes and jokes we have heard from school or from a current book we were reading and some chapstick! My oldest son picked out a goofy pair of socks, and bought them with his own allowance, and insisted we included them in the box. I wish I took a picture of them because they really were silly, but to him he thought Daddy would love the humor in his choice. So in they went! Then I added some of his favorite Starbucks instant brew pouches, some chamoile tea (since he has been having a hard time winding down after work and getting a good night's sleep), some chap stick, some magazines about Triathlon, retirement (an inside joke), and consumer reports (always a favorite). I also threw in a handerchief sprayed with my perfume in a sealed ziplock bag. He can sleep with that under his pillow case or just keep it in his flight suit/uniform. I recently just bought a new fragrance so I am going to have to send that one too. Some of his favorite snacks (pistacios, almonds, jerkey, nutella) and another bottle of spices so that he can use that on the "very bland" ship food! Just as I was about to seal the box, I found a cool little decor piece that read "Love you Dad" and just had to put it in. It fit perfectly and thinking about the size of his space on the ship, it would be a nice little reminder to put in his room.
I hate that we can't see his reaction when he opens it up or if he even cares about the silly stuff but it made the boys feel good about it and it helped me feel like I am doing my part at home. We're both serving this deployment. I may not be on the grey floaty thing, but I am doing the time too. I'm super proud of my husband and our Navy's efforts and this is why you will always see me in RED on Fridays and always see me wearing my wings until he gets home!
We're not loving life right now, but we're certainly making the best of it. We always feel his absence but we just keep moving forward. ONE DAY AT A TIME. Sending the care packages help. Not just our sailor but us too.