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this site by Lauren Pomerantz, a mentor for Soldiers' Angels

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Your Life

In subsequent letters, write about what is going on in your life.  What do you do on a daily basis?  What special activities do you take part in?  What funny things happen?

Dear Brian,

Me again.  Well, it's still hot, but every time I get ready to complain, I remember that you are hot, too, and I don't have to wear fifty pounds of body armor.  Here's hoping you get some time in some air conditioning or at least a cool drink. 

I took Thomas and Priscilla out on Saturday night.  We went to Chili's for dinner and then to see Invasion.  It's basically a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  I wasn't particularly scared, although there were some really good action scenes.  I should really go watch one of the older versions.  All I've ever seen is the Mad Magazine spoof.  I'm getting really sick of the trailers for the new Bionic Woman movie, but I want to see Beowulf and The Golden Compass.  Especially The Golden Compass.  I loved the books. 

Your Soldier as Family Member

If you've ever had a family member go off to camp or to college or into the military, you know what it is like to want to share family events with someone who isn't there.  Treat your soldier the same way.  Try not to disturb them with negative things that happen, though.  You don't want them worrying about you.  I do write about problems I'm facing, so long as ultimately they are funny.

We have a little situation around here.  I've been feeding the older cats shredded chicken, because their tummies were upset by canned catfood and their teeth aren't up to the dry stuff anymore.  Unfortunately, the kitten has now learned that I store yummy things in the fridge.  Every time I open the fridge for anything, even a bottle of water, he is right there.  And he is getting bolder.  He's not just dancing around my legs; he is starting to put his paws on the bottom edge.  I know if we'd bother to clean out the fridge, he'd be up inside sooner or later.  (Avoid housework.  It's bad for the cats!)

And I think he wants me to install a jacuzzi.  Last night he was standing on the wall of the tub, and when I flushed the toilet, he stuck his head inside to see what was going on. 

Scheduling Your Letters

If you haven't got the letter writing habit yet, you might try setting aside some time every week to write your letter.  For example, if you say that on Sunday night you will lay out the clothes for tomorrow, make lunch for the kids, and all sit down and write your soldier a letter, it will be easier to make sure that your letter goes out every week.

Toss Ins

Try including a small treat for your soldier.  Good treats include funny stories from the newspaper, photographs of family events, stickers, crossword puzzles or Sudokus, and drawings your kids did.  I also like those little books of search a word puzzles that you find at the grocery store checkout.  In the winter, I like to send a bag of flavored tea or hot chocolate (in a plastic bag). 

Alternatives to Letters

Instead of a letter, send your soldier a post card from an area that you've visited or of a local attraction.  If you don't have any local attractions, take some photographs of local sites and print them on postcard stock (available at Staples and Wal-Mart).  Ask vacationing friends to bring back post cards for your soldier.

By the way, postcards are my favorite cheat.  If I know that I am going to be super busy, like right before a holiday or a big thing at work, I will buy several post cards and write out some generic messages about what's on the picture or just that I'm thinking of him and wishing him well.  I can drop one of these in the mailbox each week until I have time to write again.

If you have a Marine, you can use MotoMail.   MotoMail allows you to send an e-mail message that is printed out in the field and delivered, usually within twenty-four hours.  It's not as personal as a handwritten letter, though, so don't use it all the time.

What About E-mail?

If your soldier has provided his or her e-mail address, by all means, send an e-mail.  However, don't rely on it as your primary means of communication.

  1. Access to e-mail is limited and can vary.  Some soldiers have no access.  Some have access, but have to wait in line with everyone else at the base.  Computer time may be limited, and your soldier may prefer to spend his looking at pictures of his kids.

  2. You can't read an e-mail while you're out on maneuvers.

  3. There is nothing like hearing your name at mail call.

One of my friends said she would sometimes order a meat-and-cheese package from Swiss Colony or Harry and David or Hickory Farms.  When she talked to her soldier later, he said that while he and his buddies loved the treats, he really preferred the boxes she packed, because they came with a personal letter.