10 resolutions for every military family in Europe in 2017
Something magic happens at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Whether the last 12 months have been your best yet ... or ones you’d rather not look back on … the ups and downs instantly dissolve into showers of confetti, shimmering sparklers, overflowing glasses of champagne and celebratory smooches.
A new year is a blank canvas — a fresh start.
Sitting down to write my own resolutions, I’ve come up with 10 things every military family in Europe can commit themselves to in 2017.
Together, we can pledge to …
1. Go 12 months (OK … at least three) without getting caught by the speed cameras.
While I love opening our APO box to find cards and letters from family and friends in the States, there’s a dreaded envelope I’d like to never see again — one from the Polizei containing a speeding ticket with a considerable fine. Let’s vow to be more observant as we make our way through villages and down European highways this year. Better yet … let’s do our best to stay well within the posted speed limits.
2. Remember to bring our own bags when shopping on the economy.
If there’s one thing I haven’t gotten used to in the 20 months we’ve called Germany “home,” it’s remembering to toss the pile of reusable grocery sacks I’ve collected in my trunk into the shopping cart before heading into the local markets … and I know I’m not the only one. Let’s do our fellow shoppers a solid by remembering to bring our own bags wherever we go to avoid clogging up lines as we awkwardly try to load our purchases back into our buggies as quickly as the cashiers scan them.
3. Get (at least) one new stamp in our passports.
This one is possible, even if your personal New Year’s resolution is to reign in your spending in 2017. Being stationed in Europe offers us a unique opportunity to travel the world on a budget. Let’s take advantage of the circumstance to experience at least one new place this year … even if we simply hop the border to a neighboring country.
4. Take a foreign language class (by book, online or in person).
In addition to traveling to a new place, let’s do our part to find out more about the people of Europe by taking the time to learn local languages. We can borrow workbooks from the library, listen to audio lessons as we travel, take courses online, or register for classes on base to expand our knowledge and understanding of our gracious host nations.
5. Play it cooler than the Griswold family when traveling.
If you’ve seen “European Vacation,” you might be able to relate to the Griswold family’s experience of getting caught in a roundabout for an embarrassing amount of time. Let’s pay close attention to our maps, GPS devices and surroundings as we navigate our way through tricky roadways so we don’t end up lost … or stuck driving around in circles until nightfall.
6. Pay tribute to our fallen at one of the many American cemeteries in Europe.
As we live, work and travel in Europe, let us not forget the thousands of U.S. servicemembers who sacrificed their lives for our nation on foreign soil and never made it home. This year, let’s make it a point to visit the gravesites of our brothers and sisters in arms who have been laid to rest in the many American cemeteries across Europe.
7. Remain vigilant without allowing fear to take over.
The tragedies that have rocked our host nations in 2016 will never be forgotten. With security heightened on base and in our communities, it is easy to be overcome with fear. Let us do what we can to stay safe without allowing ourselves to be torn apart by panic and paranoia. We need each other.
8. Stand by our servicemembers.
No matter whom you voted for in November, our 45th President will be ushered into office in just a few weeks. That means a new Commander in Chief will be leading our troops this year. Despite tensions and mixed feelings in our overseas communities, let us stand by our servicemembers and support them as they serve our nation by carrying out their duties on foreign soil.
9. Do our part to serve our overseas communities.
In addition to our servicemembers, civilian workers, spouses, children and the people of our host nations make sacrifices to support our military efforts in Europe. Let’s be there for those in need in 2017 — whether it is a military family who could use a little extra love and help, an organization on base that needs volunteers to carry out its mission or local nationals reaching out for support.
10. Stay connected with our family and friends in the States.
Living overseas can be hard on all of us, especially during the holidays when we are missing our loved ones across the pond. Let us do our best to keep in touch with our family and friends back in the States by writing letters, sending care packages, scheduling phone calls and staying connected on social media.