SD Guard - Surviving the holidays on the homefront

Active Duty - 02/04/2010

By Jim Kent
As the northern plains winter gets into full swing, the Anderson family is counting down to their April reunion when the South Dakota National Guard's 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery and 147th Forward Support Company return from Kuwait. In SDPB's continuing coverage of Chief Warrant Officer Brett Anderson's deployment, we catch up with Michele Anderson and her kids to see how they're doing in the waning months of the family's separation.

Well, the holidays are over, the new year's begun and Spring is just around the corner - if you can get past the snow, the cold and that South Dakota wind.

What to do with the kids on a Friday night to keep them busy and happy and Mom bordering on sane and calm.

If you're the Anderson family, it could mean a trip to one of your favorite spots - the party aisle at Hobby Lobby, where Taylor and Ema explore...everything.

"You know, the kids have been really good," says Michele Anderson. "Like all kids, the holiday period is a very exciting time for them."

Anderson says she did her best to make Thanksgiving and Christmas as much fun as possible for her kids during the absence of their father. Brett Anderson has been deployed to Kuwait since April of last year.

"Thanksgiving was wonderful," says Michele."We actually went to Pierre and spent Thanksgiving with Brett's parents. And we got to be together with family and kind of distracted that Brett wasn't that was really nice."

A prayer for Brett at the start of the meal along with sharing some of his favorite Thanksgiving foods, including green bean casserole, made the day in the soldier's honor even more special for his family. It also helped make up for Michele's Christmas plans to visit her family in Texas, which were cancelled due to snow.

"We were completely set to go to San Antonio and had been for several months," Michele says."In fact, that was kind of something that I was, maybe, using as...if I could just get to this point, everything will be okay. If I could just get to this point, everything will be fine. We had planned all in advance, all of our Christmas gifts and everything I'd already mailed to Texas. Christmas stockings and...even the Christmas plate for Santa. Everything had been mailed. We were all packed up, ready to go...spent two full days at the airport, three cancelled flights, and..."

And it turns out there really is no place like home for the holidays.

After taking a day of "feeling completely sorry for herself", as she puts it, Michele regrouped, ordered new presents from Santa and spent a quiet.snowy South Dakota Christmas with Taylor and Emma.

"That certainly had the potential of tipping me over permanently," says Michele. "But...fortunately, I took my day out and found a way to see the positive side and just grateful that we are healthy and safe."

And available to receive the best Christmas present of all - a visit with Brett via computer that wouldn't have happened if Michele and the kids had made it to Texas.

"Brett got to hear all of, you know, the Christmas noise," Michele says."The..oh, look at this...the excitement, the opening of the Christmas gifts and, you know, even there to have both Ema and Taylor lift up and show him what they got. It's not the same as being there, but it was pretty awesome that he was able to be online with us."

Michele says there must have been a guardian angel watching over them that day, since the computer's video program hadn't worked well in the past. There have also been friends and neighbors watching over her and the kids during the difficult days of winter.

"One of Brett's co-workers who lives fairly close has come over and helped us with the snow removal," says Michele. "And I don't know what I would have done without his help. And it wasn't anything I had to ask for. It was just...don't worry about it, we're gonna take care of it."

With an independent, detail-oriented personality, Michele Anderson says she's had to learn to accept assistance from people and to ask for help. And as a result of the sudden change in her holiday plans, Michele has also gained a greater understanding of being open to the future.

"You know, you just...can't control everything," says Michele."And life is much smoother if you take it as it comes instead of plan everything out."

It's good Michele learned that lesson, since she just found out Brett's due home for leave as this story airs - or 2 weeks early. Michele says it feels a little like she's getting ready for a blind date. But she's staying open and hopes that she and Brett will meet each other's expectations.



Brett Anderson

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