Oh, the places I’ve gone. I recall sitting in a poorly-padded-sad-shade-of-blue chair at a DMV somewhere near Lemoore, CA one day (circa 2007), staring at the form in front of me. No, I wasn’t trying to figure out a multiple-choice question pertaining to who has the right of way at a 4-way stop. I was staring at box 3.a. Or was it 4.b? List everywhere you’ve lived in the past 5 years. Ummm. Are you joking? I don’t even think there’s room for that. At the time, I could have listed my parents’ address in IL, a couple college apartment addresses in VA, our first little apartment in FL (the one where the storage closet was actually whatever we could shove behind the red chair), our second, slightly bigger, apartment in MS (the one with the creepy wallpaper), or our newest house on-base in CA (a palace by comparison).
This time of year, I can’t help but think about family. Turning on the tv, every commercial is full of families (I do still catch a few commercials despite the handy DVR and children taking over with Neklix--aka Netflix). Families laughing together. Families eating together. Together. Together. Together. Pure joy, right? What about those of us whose families are separated by distance? Or by deployment? Don’t get me wrong, we still find joy. But our joy doesn’t seem to match the commercials. Or the Hallmark movies I’m drawn to despite their mismatch to my current reality. I am not naive to the fact that these frolicking family winter wonderlands are mismatched to many realities outside of military affiliation, but a girl can dream, right? While I’ve added five (I think?) addresses to the list since that day at the CA DMV, I realize I’ve added many more than five family members as well.
With each move, we’re thrust into new locations, new situations, new communities. I don’t know about you, but at this point, I can walk into a room, slap on my nametag, lock eyes with someone across the room, and be like, yep. You. Me. Same mold. Let’s be besties. In person for 18 months, and then we’ll keep up on social media. I’m sure our husbands will like each other. Wanna do Thanksgiving? I’ll bring an appetizer, two sides, a dessert, and rolls. And we’re off.
Within our respective military communities, we find our family. It’s true. We can’t always be with our families (the lovely people we were raised by and with) at times we’d like to be. Birthdays. Sunday dinners. Times of celebration. Times of grief. Holidays. But we are surrounded by love and by friends. In our friends, we have found a new type of family, and we have found joy. We could even star in a commercial if we wanted to, and it’d bring tears to your eyes with all the hugging and the laughter.
Oh, but the places I’ve gone. And the memories we’ve made. These memories don’t seem to match up with my childhood memories, but I’ve realized that’s okay. Sometimes it feels like the demands of the military make life, like holiday travel for example, difficult. And it can. But on the flip-side, it has forced me to adapt. To make new plans. And these plans, with our newfound family, have led to new memories. Amazing memories. Memories I would not have if not for the inconvenience of the military. Do not tell the military I’m thankful for inconvenience. I did not say that. Wasn’t me. I’m just being Mrs. Brightside. For a moment.
And now MAVAN has led to a whole new family. A whole new branch of our family-friend friend-family tree. Those of you who are actively supporting us. Those of you who are reading our blog posts. Those of you who are working with us. From our MAVAN haven to yours, we send love this holiday season. Whether you’re spending time with the family you’ve made memories with your whole life or the family you’ve chosen to make new memories with, we wish you nothing but joy in the celebration.