I am going to be really candid here: I LOATHE when people complain about their birthdays and/or getting “older.” Birthdays are a gift denied to many. This includes our servicemen and women who gave their lives serving this country. If you’re here to celebrate a birthday, you are very lucky. So embrace that and don’t ever complain to me about it unless you want me to let you know what I think!
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Each year in utmost respect of their memories I choose to give back to those who are still here. Last year, you may have read all about my awesome birthday in Vegas. What you didn’t read about is the side-trip my husband and I took to Nellis Air Force Base. Why the ride out there? So that I could buy groceries at the commissary for young military families. I set a budget in advance, ask my family to contribute and choose a military base according to what area I’m in at the time. When I arrive, I observe mothers with their kids, families shopping together, young servicemen and women and I remember the times my mom (and dad when he wasn’t on TDY) would bring my siblings and me to the commissary. If you’re a civilian you might ask yourself what the big deal is about a grocery store of all things. Look back at something that was a staple in your childhood. Whether it was an ice-cream shop, a playground or a beach. Love it or hate it, the commissary is a foundation for military families; and not just because it sells the food that is served on our tables…
I discreetly speak to a bagger to let him or her know to tell the cashier I want to pay for the person in line, then I just cut in line and pay! Sometimes the bill is only $17 and sometimes it’s a lot more. I keep doing this until the money is out. There are always hugs and tears of joy and a lot of gratitude in both directions. The sacrifices my husband’s daughters make being away from their dad, the sacrifices I made as a kid, that my mom made as a military wife, that I now make and of course that all of our men and women in uniform make day in and day out…it all comes rushing to the surface. It’s hard to contain the emotion when you are there hugging a complete stranger because you commiserate with each other in ways only a military family can understand.
Last year we also went to a Starbucks on the base and handed the cashier some money and said, “Just use this for everyone until it runs out.” The hubs and I sat, enjoyed our beverages and watched as people were grateful for even such a small gesture.
Before I move on, I feel it necessary to write one thing: In no way, shape or form is this charity. It is simply a way to say thank you to the FAMILIES serving our country while remembering those who aren’t here to be thanked. It makes a small difference for a few moments in time. But in life, you look back and realize the small things were the big things. That’s how I see it.
This year the hubs and I will be in San Diego and I think I’ll be heading to the 32nd Street Naval Base Commissary. So how can YOU participate in Operation Birthday? Read on and I will include my contact details below:
- If you are a milspouse in the San Diego area and would like to join us on base, please contact me. My birthday is on a Friday, so we will head out that evening after work OR on Saturday. I will have final confirmation this week.
- If you are not a milspouse in the San Diego area and would still like to participate in-person, contact me! I’ll see what we can arrange.
- If you are not in the area and would like to contribute whether it is $5 or $500 – email me! Every dollar counts toward making a difference! Disclaimer: I am not a non-profit, this is not tax-deductible and receipts will be provided online for the spending for those who donate via Paypal or other methods.
- If you have questions, please leave a reply below in the comments!
- And lastly, if you have any ideas on how to make it better, let me know!
UPDATE FOR 2015: We will be back at Nellis AFB in Vegas! You are welcome to Paypal any donation to HeatherJWFL76 at yahoo dot com. Thank you!