Living at a small military base overseas, I feel like it is only natural for everyone to know everyone.
The housing communities are small and nestled into local German towns and villages. It is a wonderful experience but can also feel isolating. I have to say, in our nearly five years of living overseas, this has been one of the most welcoming and close-knit communities we have ever been a part of. You run your errands on post or on the local economy, and you are bound to find someone you know and are bound to strike up a conversation.
While our military community has always seemed tight, I have noticed even our small neighborhood consisting of roughly 30 families has come together to help each other out more during this time of heightened restrictions. Maybe it is because all of our lives have been forced to slow down, or maybe it is because we are looking for a greater purpose and want to do more for others. I don’t know for sure, but this is one positive takeaway that I hope sticks around even after the pandemic clears.
This Halloween, we were informed we would not be allowed to Trick-or-Treat, and the only gatherings allowed would be the ones orchestrated by command. Our children were pretty devastated since there were very few gatherings or special events being held. Many of them would not be able to dress up and experience the fun that is Halloween without care.
A mom in our neighborhood decided she would make goodie bags and deliver them to neighbors’ doorsteps. The idea spread, and soon, the majority of our small neighborhood was on board, informing others of how many children were in each house. Halloween came, and throughout the day, there were little bags delivered to each house. Instead of a night of random running around, worrying about the chill, and bundling up appropriately (usually covering up the costume anyway), the children were excited throughout the entire day.
Bags were filled with candy, of course, but also plastic bugs and spiders, glow sticks, cookies, bouncy balls, stickers, and tattoos. It was amazing to see how we all came together to make sure the children had a great Halloween, even if wasn’t the traditional experience they were used to.
Aside from holiday coordinating, I noticed our neighborhood coming together for individual members. With all the new restrictions going on with COVID, new families coming in are immediately on a two-week quarantine. During this time, they are not allowed to leave their homes. Many of them do not even have their household goods yet and have never experienced grocery shopping locally. So, our neighborhood has come together, gathering take-out menus for places that deliver, making grocery store runs, creating care packages of diapers and wipes for when new families first get into the country. We also have a family expecting their first baby later this month, and we are pulling together to set up a meal train, because right now, family members can not visit.
We are all stepping up and really trying to fill those spots the way a real community comes together to support one another.