So the first time that I was with my husband when he deployed, I was dead set on sending the best care packages EVER so that not only would he not decide he didn’t want to be with me when he came home, but he would be so desperately in love with me, he’d never want to let me go. I’m a fairly creative person, and I have to say – I think I did a pretty good job. And I had so much fun coming up with plans each month.
He left New Year’s Eve and got back in August and I sent a box at least every month. There was always a theme, there was always a CD, and the box was always decorated. Every month, I’d gather little things whenever I went to Target (which, let’s be honest…was pretty regularly), and throw them in the little flat rate box. When it was full, out came my Sharpies and stickers (oh yes, there were stickers), and once that was done, off it would go. The man at the post office and I were tight.
The first box was “Goodbye Honey, Hello Iraq.” It had a CD titled ‘all the music you’re missing – and some you’re not!’ I included a few songs I knew he did like or would like, and then a lot of music that I LOVED that would drive him nuts. Helloooo Britney! It had pictures of me, some snacks he would enjoy, and – of course – all the stuff he forgot. I even bought a cheap little pocket sized photo album and filled them with pictures of his daughter. For decoration, I wrote reasons I loved him and reasons I knew we’d make it through this deployment.
Then it was the Valentine’s Day/Anniversary box (our dating anniversary is a week after Valentine’s Day). It was our first anniversary, so I went with friends to Melting Pot – our favorite restaurant – with two girlfriends and took pictures of the whole thing. Then I made a scrapbook. No, my husband is not and never has been a scrapbook kind of guy, but I think he liked knowing that not only was I not wallowing in sadness, but I had so much fun I wanted to share it with him. The CD was all mushy love songs. There was also some typical Valentine’s Day candy, and the box was covered in quotes about love in red Sharpie.
My family is Irish, so the St. Patrick’s Day box had to be awesome. I made a cd of Irish music, both the traditional kind and a bit of Flogging Molly and the like. Thankfully, as we all know, on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, so it was very easy to find a bunch of dollar store trinkets – shamrock glasses, leprechaun hats, rainbow temporary tattoos, etc. I even sent some of my grandmother’s Irish Potato Candy, although I’m pretty sure by the time it got there, it was just a mushy mess. It’s the thought that counts, right? And obviously, the box was covered in Irish blessings and quotes.
April that year was Easter AND Earth Day. Now, Earth Day was a bit tricky, but ended up being very fun. I found a tin sign that said “Trees are for hugging!” with giant peace signs – obviously meant for a group of deployed Marines, right? I believe I sent some flower seeds, and fake flowers, and some pamphlets about recycling – just because he was in Iraq didn’t mean he couldn’t take care of our planet! I also included a ton of Easter candy in plastic eggs, and found out a day after I mailed the box that he’d decided to start eating healthy. The CD was very religious in nature, and all that was padded with that stupid Easter grass. Oh, and the best part of this box was the Easter bunny ears headbands. Somewhere, I have a picture of my 6’5″ Marine in dirty cammies in the middle of Iraq, rocking that headband. I’m pretty sure I decorated that box with quotes and pictures about trees and bunnies.
We were halfway there! The halfway home box, while very special, didn’t really have anything exciting. I made a cd of songs that meant something to us, some new pictures of his daughter and me, foods he really missed, and then for decoration, on each flap of the box I made a list: reasons I loved him, reasons we could make it a few more months, reasons it would be awesome to live together, and reasons I couldn’t wait for him to be home. He still has those – they are currently in our closet.
Father’s Day was a big deal to him, and I wanted to make sure it was special. It was his third Father’s Day, second as a single father, but his first away from his little girl. Oh, quick backstory – before he went on his first deployment, he went to Build a Bear and made a bear that was dressed like him, and did a voice recording that said ‘Daddy loves you!’ She took that bear EVERYWHERE. So naturally, for this box, I took her to Build a Bear and she made a ‘Cailin’ bear – shiny purple dress, fancy shoes, necklace, all of it. Then we had her do a recording that said ‘I love you daddy!’ She decorated the box, and she went crazy. The CD had Daddy/Daughter songs like you’d find when looking for the Father Daughter dance at a wedding. I also included my present to him, but I don’t remember what it was. And yes, before you get too concerned, I did write DO NOT OPEN THIS IN FRONT OF OTHER MARINES on the inside flaps, so that they would not tease him mercilessly when they saw the pink bear.
There wasn’t much going on in July, so I went with a summer theme. The summer time box was probably my favorite! I went NUTS at the summer dollar section at target – sunscreen, bug spray, mini water pistols, shovels, sand castle toys, beach balls, and a big floppy hat. I think I even fit a little beach towel in there. I knew he would just roll his eyes, but it was too funny for me to pass up. The box was decorated in suns and flip flops and butterflies. The CD was the best – I included basically any song about summer, from the Beach Boys to Will Smith. We still listen to that CD, five years later. Oh, since it was July, I did include some patriotic things, but the fun Fourth of July stuff is food and fireworks, neither of which are allowed in the mail.
The last box I got out before the stop mail date was the homecoming box! By that time, I had found a place for us to live when he got home, but he’d never seen it, so I sent a picture of our new house, along with a list of ‘honey do’ things he was going to have to do when he got home – all either fake, fun stuff, or things that are inappropriate to share in mixed company! I also sent some games and books and things for the very long plane ride home, and a cd of excited party songs. For decoration, I just covered the box with reasons it would be fun to live together and things we would be able to do in town that we hadn’t been able to do when I was just a visitor.
He loved getting the box each month, the guys he was with got excited every time they saw him get it, and having a little project each month made the time go by faster. It was a win win!
What are your ideas for making awesome care packages?!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/9312755459/”>The National Guard</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>