#26: Send a care package to Iraq
Books? Lard? Knitting supplies? Spam? Honey? The history of care packages includes items tasty and strange. A 1962 CARE package in the collections of the National Museum of American History contained “macaroni, cornmeal, Carnation instant chocolate flavored drink mix, and nonfat dried milk.” This particular parcel was distributed by CARE (Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe) but “care package” has come to mean, more generally, a package sent for relief or comfort. I received several such packages during my stint as an undergrad. My mom’s chewy, chocolate-y brownies (individually wrapped!) made me a hit in the dorms and powered us through many all-night-paper-writing sessions.
Choosing items to include in a care package for my husband’s brother, a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps, was easy. Spam? Nope. Lard? Nah. My brother-in-law has been serving in Iraq since late summer; he was deployed just a few weeks after his wedding. His new, ever-thoughtful wife made life simple for his friends and family by emailing us a “most wanted” list of supplies along with step-by-step directions on how to make sure the package arrives in the right place.
Today’s package includes all the comforts of home: cough drops, nuts, lip balm, ibuprofen, granola bars, magazines, Yahtzee. Okay that last one wasn’t on the list—but who doesn’t love Yahtzee?!? That’s just un-American. (Actually, Hasbro claims the game was invented by Canadians. But I digress.) The content list is pretty mundane. But we’re hoping it’s the card we slipped in that will mean the most. It includes our thoughts and wishes for him: that he’s safe, that he knows we love him and miss him, that he comes home well (and soon!).
The conflict in Iraq is a contentious issue for many and a difficult situation for all involved. For me, this care package is about family and the importance of showing support and concern to those we love with our words and our actions. If you’re interested in connecting to the men and women overseas—who are far away from their hometowns, their loved ones, their favorite dice games (I couldn’t help it)—you should, regardless of your views on the war. There are several organizations (e.g., Operation USO Care Package and Treats for Troops Foster-A-Soldier Program) that make sending a care package easy.
Lesson learned: It’s not the thought that counts, it’s the Yahtzee. Or, rather: Don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you care.