Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and in the season of giving and thanking, I am thankful for many little things here in Gitmo.
There are the obvious things: friends, family, health.
I am thankful that in such a relatively small time frame, we've met people here who I know we will keep in touch with for years to come.
There are stresses of living somewhere so isolated and limited in resources and entertainment, but recently I realized that overall, there is a core set of really amazing people who live here. I'm sure that exists in every community, but being in this small place, you can't help but notice how many people stand out.
Heard everywhere lately: "How is your family?" "How is your home?" When was the last time you went up to a total stranger and asked him or her one of those questions?
For Gitmo, however, it's been the norm the last few weeks since the catastrophic typhoon killed over 5000 (and counting) in the Philippines.
There are over 1500 foreign national Filipinos working at Gitmo---most are male, with contracts stipulating they cannot return home until they have been here at least 2 years, and most with a wife and child(ren) back home.
This entire base has been profoundly affected by the welfare of a group of people who we depend on for so much. They are hard working, friendly, and if you haven't lived somewhere where you have lumpia and pancit at every single social function, I really feel sorry for you.
Like most of our neighbors, I have found myself asking the Filipinos who bag my groceries, both school secretaries, the ladies and men who work at various MWR locations, the Bremcor construction workers who come into the schools almost every day, and the people standing next to me in line at the grocery store about how their lives have been affected by the recent tragedy.
I am thankful that I live amongst people who care for people who aren't quite strangers, but for the most part, not friends, either. Various groups and individuals have worked to get money wired to family members back home. They are still making sure that their families are taken care of for the upcoming holidays. There has been an outpouring of love and support for the Filipinos here, because they are a major part of our community, and we are thankful that they are here to make this place run a little more efficiently.
I am thankful for soccer.
Oh, how I love soccer. I love watching it on television or in person, I love playing it, I love watching my kids as they are getting better and better every game.
The women's league finally winded down a couple of weeks ago, and I really do miss it. Our league consisted of all sorts of women---Jamaican foreign nationals; people associated with NCIS, JTF, the Red Cross; civilian contractors; members of the Army, Marines, and Navy; military spouses; several moms. We had engineers and mechanics, MWR employees and women deployed without their families, and I am so happy to say I was the ONLY school employee in the entire league, because, like most teachers, I really tire of talking about anything work related l when I am away from school.
The season is winding down for the kids, as well. I am thankful that Boy 1 is laughing and enjoying himself (and he's really good) with a sport he hasn't played since he was 8 years old. I'm am thankful that Boy 2 has ways to run off some of that 8 year old energy that his mama can't keep up with.
I am also thankful for the following:
- my kids' teachers: I am so thankful for smart, caring teachers for both of our sons. When my oldest had a difficult time adjusting when we first got here, they didn't give up---they went beyond any teachers he has ever had in order to make sure his academic and emotional needs were met. This is not an easy place to teach---most high school teachers have 5 preps and most of the time, they are the only person who teaches a specific class---but they manage to not only leave that stress at home, but make sure my son transitioned to life on this crazy rock.
- the author John Green: Thanks to him, my oldest has found his love of reading again. Now, if he could just hurry up and publish another book. . .
- friends and family who say, "Tell me what you want, and I will send it"---and they MEAN IT: I have received several wonderful care packages while living here, with everything from Halloween decorations to Zero bars to borracho beans to bacon.
- work people: I have coworkers who, despite some changes that have brought on many anxieties, still find ways for us to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously. And I am grateful for every one of them.
- BEACHES: I have never lived anywhere where you can go to the beach every single day of the year. Whether it's diving or hunting for sea glass, the sound of the waves and the smell of salt air can make the most jaded person love life a little more.
|Yes, that is Boy 1 in action.|
- slow traffic and only two main roads: This is the perfect way for a 15 1/2 year old to learn to drive a car. Not so sure how he'll fare---or the rest of us, for that matter---when we are back in the states next summer and the land of crazy Texas drivers.