A Few of Our Favorite Things
By Sarah Gondo
When I became an Army wife 5 years ago, I knew that there would be holidays, lots of holidays, spent without my family close by. I would always have my kids, and hopefully my husband would be home, but the days with grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles at every holiday dinner would not be quite as feasible.
Our first duty station was in Fort Lewis, WA, which was just a few hours from home, so those first 2 years we still got to spend Christmas with our extended family. But then we moved to Missouri, which was far, far away from Washington. I woke up one November morning, and realized that this would be my first Christmas away from home. I missed my parents, siblings and friends. I felt like my family and I were missing out on the big holiday celebrations. I realized that I needed to do something to keep us all in touch, especially at Christmas.
So, I sent out an email to 15 of our family members and close friends, explaining that they would be receiving a box in the mail from us, containing our “favorite things,” and that we would love to get one back from them. I sat down with our 6 kids, who ranged in age from 1-13 and asked them what some of their favorite things were. I got all kinds of suggestions and came up with a list of 12 things that the family loved: Everything from our favorite movie, to our favorite dinner recipe, to our favorite family game. After collecting 15 of each item (some homemade — some purchased), we set up our own little packaging table and packed up 15 boxes of our “favorite things.”
It was a huge hit, and has become a tradition! The first year we just got 1 box in return, but last year we got 4 back and I’m expecting even more this year. It’s been a great way for our family to keep in touch and is a fun way to share our family’s favorites with other families who we want to stay close to. Our kids love getting the packages in the mail from friends and family that contain their favorites. We get movies we wouldn’t normally buy and we get to try out recipes we have never heard of, like deep fried bananas! Every year our family changes — as does our list of “favorite things” — and I love being able to share that with far-away friends and family.
Being in the military has its advantages and can be an adventure, but it also has its drawbacks. When you move away from everyone that’s important to your family, you have to find new ways to stay connected. Each time we send out and receive those boxes of “favorite things,” we connect to our hometown and the friends and family who live there.