On Saturday morning, my son and I started a new Christmas tradition.
My alarm went off at our regularly appointed weekday hour. It was still dark and instead of trying to piece together an ensemble that is not only professional but accommodates my ever expanding waistline, I pulled out my thickest socks and long johns and piled on the layers. I pulled out my son’s warmest sweater, flannel lined pants and winter weight stroller blanket, all but guaranteeing that he’d be sweating by the time that we hit the metro and we bundled up to head to Arlington National Cemetery.
My new office organizes a few service projects a year. For the holiday season they invite staff and their families to participate in Wreaths Across America. This is an amazing opportunity for people to honor those service men and women who are interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
It was a chilly morning and it was a lot of stroller time for my little one, but it was amazing to be two of thousands of volunteers who were also up early on their Saturday to make sure that wreaths were placed and that those who served were properly honored.
While it was hard for a toddler to understand why we were there, he loved making friends with the boy scout troop in line behind us. He also spent some time with a couple with an empty nest that missed having little ones around. None of us had family or friends buried at the cemetery, but had our own special connections to the armed forces. My dad served in Vietnam and my grandfather served in Korea. My father-in-law and a few uncles were members of the armed forces, Dash’s godfather served in Iraq and we have a number of other friends who have or are currently serving our country.
After the helicopter fly-over, we received our wreath to place and quietly made our way to the middle of our designated section. We leaned our wreath against the headstone with the ribbon on top and took a few minutes to look around and watch hundreds of other wreaths being laid at the same time.
It might not have made an impression on him this year, but I hope to make it a tradition to spend a day together doing something for others every holiday season. If he’s lucky, we’ll share a sprinkle donut together after we’re home and defrosted next year too!