David and I are a "military family". And that makes us a part of a much bigger family, "the Military family". Especially stationed overseas, members of that big family really count on each other. We can't always go home for Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Easter, 4th of July and all of the other events one normally looks forward to spending with family. So it's lucky we have each other. Our Thanksgiving &Christmas dinners have different faces at them every year, some that we'll see for 2 more Christmases, some that we may never see again. When you're a part of this big family, there are times that you have to stand in and take the role of a real family member. I've gone to dance recitals and karate matches (? don't know what karate matches are called!). Things that people would normally invite grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles to. I've gone to the hospital and taken pictures of a one-day old baby to e-mail to her daddy as he tried to make it home from Afghanistan asap (he made it when she was 10 days old). Recently I was asked to be on someone's "emergency care plan"--if both parents unexpectedly needed to deploy, I would need to care for their baby while they waited for their real family member to arrange to come get him. My military family have celebrated my birthday, organized my classroom library at the beginning of the school year, packed up my classroom when it was time for me to move, helped me look for a house, loaned me a car, surprised us at the airport to say good-bye when we left Okinawa.
Right now, one of our military families here is going through some really hard times. Their daughter, who is maybe 2 or 3 years old (?) is battling lymphoblastic lymphoma. She was in the hospital for a long time in the fall and now she has taken another turn for the worse. The parents stay at (or near?) the hospital (off base, and probably about 30-50 minutes from their home) and a guy from the squadron who lives nearby delivers meals. So, we have volunteered to provide a meal for them every Tuesday. Which means that every Monday, I will make a larger meal (Rachael Ray recipes are great for larger meals!) and package up our leftovers so the J's can enjoy a homecooked meal. I'd be making dinner anyway, so why not make a little extra and share?
I won't lie... I have a decent heart, but it is by no means perfect. When David said "I was thinking I'd have Pete put us on the list to provide food every week, just to make it easier for him," the first thing going through my head was "$$$$$". Then I wanted to remind him that just two weeks ago, we had discussed NOT volunteering to provide food for every single function that we are asked to volunteer for anymore...maybe just every other one. I thought about pointing out that David has never even met this guy, and I've only met him once or twice. But then I snapped out of "crazy-stingy mode" and back into "decent human mode" and remembered that there is a little girl who has CANCER. A little girl who is old enough to know there is something wrong, but too young to understand explanations of what is happening or why. There is a couple who is away from their family and spending day in and day out in the hospital, praying for their daughter's survival. I think, "what if this were me? what if this were one of MY family members? what would I hope someone would do for MY family?" What can I do? I can't cure cancer. I can't assure them that everything will be fine. But I can make them dinner. When I remind myself to put it into perspective, I see that providing them with a meal once a week is not only an easy thing to do, but the right thing to do. Another thing I can do to help... I can say a prayer for them and ask you to do the same!
Last night's dinner was Chicken Stew & Cornmeal Dumplings from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. If you have a list of meals that make a lot and are good for sharing (when people have new babies, illnesses, etc.) add that one to your list, and suggest some for mine!