Posts Tagged ‘Home’

I thought I’d write a post for Valentine’s Day, and then I recalled that I don’t really like Valentine’s Day. Not because I’m bitter or romantically neglected, but because it reminds me of 7th grade too much. There’s this pressure to give your loved one cheap chocolate or one of those gigantic teddy bears from Wal-Mart (which is destined for a garage sale anyway) so he/she won’t be the only one at the office (aka, “school”) without a Valentine. It’s junior high all over again—peer pressure capitalism, I say! Okay, that’s the end of my rant.

Instead, I thought I’d write about a segment of society that could definitely use some more LOVE. TIME magazine recently published an article about the growing divide between the military and civilian worlds. This division has led to a situation where many soldiers feel they come home to a country they don’t know, and a society that doesn’t really care. And as military installations are consolidated—the result being fewer, but much larger, bases (think Ft. Hood, TX and Ft. Bragg, NC)—the gap continues to grow since military families can practically live their entire lives on the installation, disconnected from the wider society outside.

Military service is also becoming more of a family affair, with former “brats” making up a good percentage of those who voluntarily join up. From personal experience and from other brat friends I’ve talked to, it seems that it’s increasingly difficult for military children to cross the divide to a civilian world that doesn’t “get” their upbringing and the values it instilled. In the wider American population, younger generations today are less likely to have a family or friend connection to the military, making it more difficult for military kids to relate to their peer group when they leave home or go off to college.

To some extent this kind of “culture shock” is, and has always been, part of military life, but some worry the growing gap between the military and civilian worlds may lead to a kind of “warrior caste.” For me, the big question is: what are the consequences of a military that feels increasingly disconnected from the country it’s fighting for, and a civilian population that has no idea what its military is really up to?

I'll Miss You Dad Child holds on tight to her ...

So in honor of Valentine’s Day—or perhaps in protest of it :)—find a military solider, spouse, or brat and give them a big hug. The military-civilian gap will never close unless the rest of American society takes active steps to  invite soldiers and their families back in.

 

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I came across this documentary on military brats–Brats: Our Journey Home. I’m looking forward to watching the entire thing, but here’s the trailer in the meantime!

A fellow blogger and military mom has a great post about resources for children struggling with military brat life: Advocating for Our Military Brats

I think getting access to the stories of other “brats” who have experienced a similar upbringing is another great resource for kids currently going through it. That’s why I find books and film so helpful–stories give us meaning, and there’s nothing quite as meaningful as hearing another’s story that could very well be your own.

Military brats are often very serious about their family traditions.  When you spend the holidays in so many different places—usually far from extended family–it’s nice to have a few things that are consistent. With my family, while we loved Thanksgiving, it was always the day after we got most excited about. I know what you’re thinking. Black Friday.

Surprisingly, in a household where the female:male ratio was 4:1, I don’t think I even knew what Black Friday really was until I went off to college. For us, the day after Thanksgiving meant one thing—a tradition my parents were forced to abide by (even if it happened to be 75 degrees  outside) in order to prevent our fragile childhood psyches from crumbling at yet another stable foundation being stripped away.

We put up our Christmas tree. The day after Thanksgiving. No matter what.

Other than this tangled-light, Lifetime Treasury of Christmas, eggnog overdose extravaganza, the only other Thanksgiving tradition I recall being a big deal was a dish affectionally known as The Chowen Girl’s Holiday Fruit Salad. This was a fruit salad my sisters and I have prepared for as long as I can remember. We each had our assigned roles. Mollee cut the Marshmallowsbananas because she was the baby and this task only required a butter knife. Haylee chopped the apples because if I did, a whole apple usually ended up getting thrown at Mollee. And I, being the eldest, had the oh-so important job of making the sauce.

Yes, the three of us, all adults now, still make this salad when we’re together. Every freakin year. Like I said, for military brats, some traditions die hard. But here’s a little secret…one extended family members have probably been holding in for years.

The salad is disgusting (sorry Mom).

I suppose the fruit part is fine, but anything that includes 2 cups of rainbow marshmallows and maraschino cherries shouldn’t really be categorized as a “salad,” in my opinion. However, if you’re curious—or happen to have children under the age of 5—here’s the top secret recipe.

Chowen Girls Holiday Fruit Salad

3-4 large apples
3 bananas
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup maraschino cherries

Special Sauce
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp cinnamon

Peel apples, cut in eighths, core and slice crosswise. Peel bananas, slice 1/4 inch thick (dip in lemon juice to prevent browning). Place in large bowl. Add raisins, nuts , cherries and marshmallows. In small bowl mix cherry juice, mayo and cinnamon. Beat until smooth and pour over fruit mixture. Mix well and transfer into serving bowl . Garnish with cherries.
Yield: 6-8 servings (you’ll have leftovers for days…what does that tell you?)

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or memories?