The perfect holiday season

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Bill Stowe
  • 344th Air Refueling Squadron commander
Thanksgiving has come and gone and with it, the leaves are falling and brisk mornings are becoming commonplace.

Christmas is just around the corner and holiday items have filled up the stores. Time is pressing to finalize travel plans, holiday invitations and Christmas shopping for family and friends. Children are getting excited for school break, while the adults are looking forward to some well deserved and relaxing time off. Decorations are going up and everyone is looking forward to this time of the year when they can enjoy good food, the company of family, friends and the good 'ole holiday spirit.

In a perfect world I would agree; however that is not a world that we currently live in.

Many of Team McConnell members will be deployed abroad supporting our national objectives this holiday season. Their deployed leaders will put forth their best effort to provide a festive atmosphere; however that does not replace the fact that they will not be home. Most will get a holiday meal, while some will have to make do with an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat).

Although access to the internet and phones will enable many to communicate with their loved ones, some may not have that luxury based upon mission requirements or location. For some, the only time off they receive might be when their duty day is complete, and they are trying to squeeze in a few hours of sleep in their tent before they begin the next day's work. Their celebration might be spent turning wrenches on the flightline, flying on a combat sortie, defending their base from outside the wire or providing life saving medical care to a wounded hero. This is not the perfect holiday season.

Holding down the home front of those deployed Airman will be their family and friends, spouses and children. They will each put forth their best effort to enjoy the holiday season, while their loved one is deployed. They may travel to spend the holidays with family or friends. They might decorate, shop for gifts and even cook their favorite holiday recipe. However, the normal holiday stressors may be greatly increased by the fact their loved one is deployed. They may be consoling a child that is tearfully missing their parent, or staying up late caring for a sick child. Perhaps they are worrying about paying the heating bill or getting an emergency repair on the water heater.

They may also worry about their loved ones safety, anxiously waiting for the next phone call or email. They may worry that their loved one may not get to enjoy the holidays, let alone celebrate them. They hope that their loved one will return safely. This is not the perfect holiday season.

As the holiday season approaches we need to relax, reflect and take care of ourselves and our family. However, we must ensure our deployed Airman and their families are cared for.

A simple e-mail or holiday card to deployed Airman will go a long way or even sending a small gift for them to open on Christmas.

Either way, Team McConnell members must strive to make their deployed Airmen's holidays the best they can be because the littlest things may make the difference. As for the families of those deployed, invite them to join you for Christmas dinner or offer to watch their children, thus allowing them some alone time. Lending them a shoulder to cry on is also important - the littlest things make the difference. This is not the perfect holiday season so let us do all we can to take care of the Airman and families of Team McConnell and make this holiday season the best it can be.