When hubby headed off to Iraq in 2003, the first look many people I knew gave him was shock. The second was thoughtful and followed by this phrase, "Do you think you can bring me back a rug?"
Yes, they all wanted rugs.
And when hubby headed off to Afghanistan this year, the same conversation took place. Not as many people wanted rugs - after all, the dynamics there are a little bit different - but they all wanted something.
My hubby is very good at cruising the bazaars for us, we usually average a package from him every two weeks or so. Our house is beginning to look like a day stop for Caravans. I really do love it!
But here's the rub - someone I know (a long-time civilian family friend) actually asked me, "When is your hubby going to send us something?"
Instant irritation on my part. "When are YOU going to send HIM something?" I replied.
"Well, I know I really should. I've just been so busy!"
"Are people shooting at YOU?"
"I've just been busy."
In retrospect, I probably should not have let my irritation get the better of me. But maybe I should. After all, there seems to be a distinct lack of understanding about what's actually going on in the Middle East for many people who are only tangentially connected with the War on Terror.
That's not always the case - my husband has gotten several stuffed full CARE packages from civilian friends of ours. CARE packages with the best stuff in them - Oreos, baby wipes, roasted nuts, and chips. Whatever hubby doesn't grab himself is immediately claimed by someone in his unit. They can strip down a CARE package in ten minutes flat.
Hubby reciprocates immediately, and has sent out many hand-made burqa clad dolls in gratitude.
But the "I've been busy" excuse just doesn't wash with me. And so this deployment we have instituted a new rule: If you don't send stuff to hubby, don't expect a souvenir.
Hubby loves letters. There doesn't have to be a significant financial outlay to send CARE packages with bells and whistles.
You just have to remember that he needs your support more than you need that alabaster vase.