Sending your child off to college can be one of the most bittersweet moments for any parent. There is joy to see the success and independence that your child has achieved, as well as worry and sadness at the thought of your “little one” being out there on their own. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you are sending your child off to not just college, but to a career in the military. Elfster is humbled to host a group of moms who all have cadets at West Point. They all keep in touch via a Facebook group, and now are also sharing their friendship with an Elfster exchange!
The United States Military Academy at West Point boasts a beautiful campus above the Hudson River in New York, and is the place where future officers are trained. In order to be a cadet, students must apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually from a Senator or Representative. In order to attend this prestigious institution, the cadet has their tuition fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation. The school is known for being tough, and cadets must meet exacting academic and physical standards.
Being a parent to a cadet can be “a roller coaster ride” according to Judee Aten, the organizer of the Ornaments from the Heart exchange. The parents have organized several different Facebook groups to allow each other to communicate with other parents in the same position. Judee decided to organize the gift exchange in order to “give us an opportunity to focus on something other than missing our kids!”
For the months of September, October, November and December each of the gift exchange participants will be sending an ornament to their draw. The group has been busy asking each other questions to get to know what would be the best type of ornament to send. The exchange also suggests that each person try to send ornaments that represent something from their own hometowns.
According to Judee, doing the exchange has allowed many of the members to build on friendships that were already developing. The group typically is able to meet each other in person at events on West Point grounds such as Army football games, or other functions on campus.
The group is now more than half way through the multi-month exchange, and they are busy posting numerous messages to the exchange page to let each other know when they receive their ornaments, and when they are sending them out. The Facebook page allows them to share pictures of what they are sending and receiving, and they are all very enthusiastic. What a fun way to keep in touch, make new friends, and get ready for Christmas decorating. Elfster tips our pointy hats to these patriotic pals for creating such a fun way to celebrate.