Seeking help from A Split "Alumni" Parents

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by MarinerMom54, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. MarinerMom54

    MarinerMom54 New Member

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    I'm looking for help from parents of A-split midshipmen who have already been through at least one "sea term". Specifically, I'd like to hear about how you handled Christmas celebrations. We're planning on having a famlly dinner before he leaves and giving him his Christmas gifts then (most all of them are things he needs/wants for his sea term anyway), but I'd like to hear what others have done, especially about celebrating the day itself.

    Did you send a box of special "treats", (candies and cookies that will survive packing and mailing reasonably well)? How can this be accomplished? If we send a package to the ship, to be held for him until Christmas, to whom would we send it? If any of you have done this, how was it received by your cadet? (Some cadets might find it difficult to be reminded of home, and prefer to just pass the day the way the ship's company 'normally' does.)

    Any experiences or suggestions that you have would be welcome; please help!
     
  2. 2KPsons

    2KPsons Member

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    Holidays during Sea Year were hard. We usually had an early Thanksgiving celebration right before he left. Christmas was dependent on where he was. One year, he was in the middle of the Pacific on Christmas day; the following year he was on an MSC ship in Pearl Harbor, so we were able to send some gifts to be delivered to him on the base. I know some parents have tried to send packages through the company the cadet is working for - bot sure how often this works, but you can try it. In my case, we had both sons home last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas - but will be with one at sea this year and next. Good luck - and don't worry - just think about the great time the holidays will be when he is back!
     
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Not a parent

    Obviously not a parent, but rather an alumni who missed Christmas (and has missed many more since)

    My family would do Christmas for me in October or whenever the last time I was going to be home before departing for sea year. This worked out well as it got me some "stuff" I wanted for sea year and then we didn't have to worry about shipping anything. My parents never sent anything in addition to the ships, and to be honest, I wouldn't really recommend trying to ship anything.

    My opinion is just do it early and then send a note via email or something on Christmas day. It will just be "another regular workday" on the ship anyway, with a slight touch of fanfare, but not much.
     
  4. 2009KPer

    2009KPer Member

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    Honestly, for me, the less stuff I had, the less I had to worry about. This included my parents/family trying to send me "gifts" for the holidays.

    Like kp2001 said - aboard ship, Christmas and Thanksgiving are just like regular work days. The most special thing is usually the meals will be a bit more grandiose, but other than that, not much else is different. If you're in port (like I was my second sea year, leaving Benicia, CA at 0700 Christmas morning), then you're so focused on work that the "it's a holiday" factor kinda goes out the window. Crews definitely wish each other 'Merry Christmas' and all that, but it's not really that big of a deal.

    If your kid really wants something from home around Christmas, by all means - find a way to get it to him. He'll need to ask the captain how to do this, as mail is usually handled by the company/ship's agent.

    Easiest thing is to just do the celebrations/gift exchange before they go to sea.
     
  5. KPMum2012

    KPMum2012 Parent

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    We did the opposite of most people who posted here. We waited and sent her Christmas gifts after she got back in March. Since her birthday is also in March, it was a double celebration. For us, it was complicated by the fact that we lived in Brussels, Belgium at the time. So the last time we'd seen DD before sea was during the summer and we knew we probably wouldn't see her again until at least May. She was adamant that she did not want a fuss made over the holidays and wanted everything to wait until she got back.

    We did get to IM with her on Skype on Christmas Eve. And she called us on New Years because the crew insisted she had to call her parents. She tried to tell them it would be 3 a.m. for us, but they insisted. (It wasn't the first middle of the night phone call and I'm sure it won't be the last. And we've been glad for every one of them, no matter what the hour.) As 2009KPer stated, Christmas and Thanksgiving were regular work days with extra good food. In DD's case, it actually meant additional duty helping the stewards prep. They'd discovered she was competent in a kitchen, having spent a summer as a cook at Girl Scout camp.
     
  6. NU81

    NU81 Parent

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    Since we live on the west coast and our son is on the sailing team he does not get home much. I think the last holiday we spent with him was Christmas his plebe year. He is now a 1st classman and will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. While he was at sea we sent a package prior to him leaving Kings Point with little gifts wrapped for Christmas. They were all small and mostly things he could use at sea. We also included a card. We think he probably waited until Christmas to open, but who knows! The first year we did get a call from him off the coast of Spain on the SAT phone. The captain gave then five minutes each to call home as a gift. Last year he was off the East Coast and we got a call when he reached port a couple of days later. We did celebrate Christmas and birthdays when he got home in the summer.
     
  7. wolfe834

    wolfe834 Member

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    Our first sea-year, the Ensign was in the Pacific for Thanksgiving and in Guam for Christmas. He gave us a call on Christmas only because he thought it was cool he was on the other side of the date line and "Santa" got to see him first. The second sea-year, he was in the Atlantic for the holidays.

    As previously stated, it is hard to buy gifts for the Mids due to the hassle of transporting "non-needed" items and trying to get the items to the ships. If there were items he needed, prior to leaving, then we had the items shipped to the Academy prior to him leaving. If not, we put money in his account to let him get what he wanted while at the many different ports.

    Can't go wrong with cash!

    On a side note, A-Split will also prepare families for holidays to come when your DD/DS will be away for the holidays. Unfortunately, the military and shipping industry are part of the few jobs which don't shut down for the holidays.
     
  8. kpmom2011

    kpmom2011 Member

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    our 2011 Mid was A split. First sailing period, the husband I went on a cruise for Christmas.....our son called us on our ship from his port in China :shake:

    2nd sea term he was in the middle of the pacific in a typhoon and had a "rolling" time on Christmas day.

    First year, we did not send anything, nor the 2nd year, but we did celebrate Christmas in July when we knew he would be back. Left a small tree up and did the whole dinner thing along with presents, family and friends.

    Not sure how to handle this year....LOL...he'll be home for both holidays. What a concept!
     
  9. MarinerMom54

    MarinerMom54 New Member

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    Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies. It seems we are all in the same boat (pun intended!) when it comes to Christmas gifts, etc. for our mids - they need to get what they need to get before they leave and it's really a lot easier for them to pick and buy their own stuff and have it shipped to them (making cash always a useful gift, even if it's somewhat less fun to give.)

    My question was really aimed at what might be welcome and possible in terms of making the day a little more special for someone far away from home, but your experiences have helped me understand that our DS will in all likelihood find his own way of making the day special, and needs to learn what it's like to be in a profession where being home for the holidays is NOT a given, but a treat to be cherished.
     
  10. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    To me a simple email or a card (even it was a couple weeks late, etc) was always nice to get on the days such as Christmas. And yes, somehow they'll find a way to mark the day and make it "special" in their own way.
     

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