It is not uncommon for whoever leads the invocation prayer at the start of each Hannibal City Council meeting to request protection for those serving abroad in our country’s armed forces. At the Dec. 4 Council meeting that portion of the prayer resonated within me.
As you read these words one of my son-in-laws, Shawn, is serving in Afghanistan.
When Shawn and my daughter, Amber, announced their plans to be married this past June it was with the thought that they would begin their lives together at a post in Germany. Since they are both accomplished photographers, they were looking forward to the opportunities that awaited them in Europe within a short jaunt of where they would be living.
However, as Uncle Sam is prone to do, there was a change of plans. Not long after they shared their wedding vows came notice that the transfer to Germany was off. That was followed by news that Shawn was being deployed to Afghanistan.
I have not been to either Germany or Afghanistan. Maybe they’re both beautiful in their own unique way. Still, as far as destinations go it sounded to me like Shawn had gone from the penthouse to the outhouse.
With her husband overseas, Amber, like countless new brides before her, is doing everything she can to support her man. To bring a smile to his face, Amber has had a photo enlargement of Shawn’s head made, which she has brought to different events and gatherings. People take turns holding the head-on-a-stick, while photos of it in the different settings are taken. The images are then posted on Shawn’s Facebook wall. Why? To help make sure that Shawn knows that while he’s thousands of miles away, he’s still in the minds and hearts of his friends and family back home.
Of a more traditional nature has been the sending of “care packages” during the holiday season. Amber’s grandma (my wife Nancy’s Mom) earlier this month sent off a box filled with eatable Christmas items.
To make sure Shawn was not overwhelmed with sweets all at once, Nancy waited a week or so before starting to work on her own treat package. I recently came home from work to find Nancy making an assortment of our family’s favorite treats.
After sampling the assorted goodies to help guarantee quality control, I gave my bride a “thumbs up” that they were indeed suitable to be shipped out.
Nancy went to the post office to pick up one of those set-price boxes that ships anything that will fit inside it. Next came Nancy’s big challenge: Maximizing the space in order to get the most items packed inside.
Page 2 of 2 - I watched as Nancy carefully wrapped the various items and slowly began loading them into the box. I’m sure she packed, unpacked and then repacked the box at least a couple of times in an effort to get as much as possible in it.
During the course of packing and repacking my bride found herself tackling an age old issue – trying to get something round, not a peg but cookies, into a square hole, the container. And while Nancy had no trouble getting the circle cookies in the box, she noted that it felt like she was fitting more in when packing chocolate bars that were cut in squares, rather than the circular cookies.
An e-mail from Shawn arrived last week to let us know the treats had not only arrived, but had proven popular, not only with him, but his comrades.
Because Shawn’s e-mail contained both a heartfelt “thank you” and a request for more when possible, Nancy will soon be doing her best to again fit round items into a square hole.