Well, here we are into the first week of Advent! In addition to the Sunday celebration services and advent candle lightings, that means baking, wrapping, decorating, and mailing.
I don’t know about you, but we still send paper Christmas holiday greeting cards each year. In the cards for people we feel close to, my beloved and I even enclose one of those obnoxious little letters sharing a bit about the year that we and our family had. We have moved many times over the years, each time leaving behind some treasured friendships. We also have family and very good friends on three continents – these notes show them how the grandkids are growing, and lets them know that we still think of them and want to keep up with them. Not everyone’s on Facebook.
A while back I saw a post on social media, suggesting that cards to soldiers and veterans be a part of the holidays for more families this year. In the face of recent events and so much international uncertainty, that sounded like an idea that was long overdue for me. My dad and both grandfathers served in the armies of their countries (USA and UK) and my husband’s father served in the US Navy. All of them served in time of war and spent holidays in far-away places. I wish the world were a better place, and all our boys and girls in uniform could be home for the holidays. But I know some of them will be away for a long time, and some will never return. None of them made the decision to put our troops where they are. So, as I started addressing cards this week, I went online to get more info on how to send messages of holiday thanks and encouragement to our troops.
I quickly realized that I had missed the boat. That post? It meant to do it THEN, the day I read it, and not at my leisure a month later.
The annual deadline for the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign (through their local chapters) had just passed – it was December 2nd. Valiant Veterans’ Operation Christmas Cards had a December 1st deadline, and the Hugs for Soldiers’ Christmas for a Soldier annual campaign ended December 1st as well.
But, I learned it’s not altogether too late.
- A Million Thanks has a Send a Letter program where you can send letters at any time – including what might be belated holiday greetings – and they have other services as well. All they ask that you be uplifting and thankful in your notes.
- And missing a holiday card deadline doesn’t mean there’s nothing at all you can do until next year. It tugs at our hearts that there are soldiers and veterans who will not be with family and friends for Christmas (or whatever holiday they celebrate at this time of year), but many are lonely or need support the rest of the year as well. Did you know you could get a military pen-pal? Write to thank a soldier at any time? “Adopt” a military family? Operation We Are Here has quite a few suggestions. Soldier’s Angels also has community/group opportunities to reach out to deployed US military, veterans, and more.
- You can also send or drop off cards to your local VA hospital (call first to find out the best way and time to do this). Some Veterans Administration facilities also need drivers, or have “needs lists” which they don’t use to solicit gifts, but offer as guidelines when asked – things as simple as new t-shirts and personal hygiene items.
So at least now I have a revised, two-pronged plan for my cards – sending some notes through the Send a Letter program now (and throughout 2016), and marking my calendar to write holiday cards before Thanksgiving next year to get them into the holiday flow.
Guess I’d better get to work.
Here’s wishing you all a blessed holiday season and a bright, hopeful, and peaceful 2016!