Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What they miss

This is a picture of my son-in-law, Jason, taken on the night he deployed to Afghanistan last spring. He is holding his then six year-old daughter, Lexi. Jason was leaving for his third Afghanistan deployment.

Tonight or tomorrow, there will be a similar photo, I hope, but this one will be of an arrival home, not of a farewell.

This past year, while Jason was away training and then deployed, my husband and I spent a lot of time in Jason's home, helping to look after his lovely daughter. The experience made me painfully aware of what our military men and women miss while they are away, working long, dangerous hours in service to our country. 

Here is just a small sample:

Jason missed seeing Lexi learn to ride a bike.

He was away when she lost her first tooth.

He wasn't  able to attend her first dance recital.
He didn't get to share those magic first moments when Lexi truly fell in love with reading and good books.
Jason couldn't attend Lexi's kindergarten awards assembly, couldn't take her to her first swimming lessons, or celebrate at her 7th birthday party . 
Recently, I said to my daughter that I felt for her, for how tough it has been this past year to be on her own a lot, essentially a single mom with a busy army work schedule of her own. (Even at home, an army work day is a long one; she leaves the house by 5:10 a.m. for early morning physical training.)
But Molly's response was this: That no matter how hard it had been for her, it didn't come close to being as hard as what a deployed soldier in a war zone was going through on a daily basis.
Well, with luck, Jason will be back tonight. There will be many more "firsts" ahead for Lexi and Jason will be there to share them.
Still, in my opinion, the price of repeated deployments is high, even for those who come home physically unharmed. Each time that I was the one to see Lexi win an award or learn something new, I felt like a thief, like I was stealing something special that could never be given back.
Welcome home, Jason. You won't be seeing me for quite a while. I figure that the best gift a mother-in-law can offer at this time is her complete absence. But hey, don't forget to send pictures of those new Lexi milestones that are going to be coming along. You know, the ones that you're going to be there for from now on.
Love you guys!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Round Lake Festival of Trees

 Last night, I popped into the first ever Round Lake Festival of Trees. This historic village located between Albany, NY, and Saratoga Springs has an active group, the Women's Round Lake Improvement Society (W.R.L.I.S.) which is sponsoring the event. Proceeds will go toward the library and other Round Lake community events.
 In addition to decorated trees, holiday cookies were offered for sale. Visitors were given a bakery box and "cookie elves", like this nice lady, below, helped fill the boxes with assorted treats, at $8.00 a pound.
 I snapped a few photos for this blog before being chided by one lady that I wasn't to do that. The designers, she said, wanted to protect their work. Bah, humbug. I explained that I wished to write about the event for my local blog, but she was firm.  I hope the W.R.L.I.S. ladies re-think that policy for next year. Getting decorating ideas and inspiration is a chief reason why folks go to events like this.
 This sparsely decorated silver tree, above, appealed to me. In my own back yard, families of cardinals abound and sometimes in winter, we see scenes quite like this.
I also liked this simple, traditional idea: old-fashioned paper chains, but made of sheet music rather than construction paper. Sweet.

The Round Lake Festival of Trees and cookie sale continues today, Saturday, December 1, from noon to 8:00 pm, and on Sunday, December 2, from 1:00 to 5:00. Most of the trees, wreaths, and center pieces are for sale. The event is set up in the Round Lake Community Room at 49 Burlington Ave. The room is handicapped accessible. Admission is $5.00. Round Lake is located off  the Northway at exit 11.