Connecting during the holidays

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Erik Larson

In WWII as in these days, military leadership recognized contact with loved ones while on deployment boosts morale. This is especially true during the holidays.

A problem they ran into was that cargo space was critical to transport war supplies and mail takes up lots of space and weight. The solution was Victory mail or V-Mail for short.

According to Smithsonian National Postal Museum, V-Mail Letter Sheets, V-Mail consisted of only one page of lightweight paper that were transferred to microfilm to reduce the extra weight of multiple letters. Once the letters made it to the U.S., they were transferred back to paper.

V-Mail only took twelve days or less to be delivered. This was a remarkable correspondence interval for those days.

What is even more remarkable is that these days technology has allowed us to connect from deployed locations to our loved ones with the tips of our fingers instantaneously. I feel like we should be grateful for today’s technology and take advantage of the time we get to communicate by making it open and productive.

At times, there are many priorities and distractions in our life, so we should be intentional about setting a schedule so we can give our loved ones our undivided attention. We also should communicate effectively. Because V-Mail was limited to only one page, people needed to be specific about what words to use so their message was effective. This is not any different for us today.

The most effective form of communication is straightforward, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” Some people believe if their loved one was sensitive, they would understand without having to be specific. Unfortunately, for them, no one will ever be sensitive enough to be able to read minds. Therefore, you should be specific in your conversation and do not assume the other person understands you perfectly.

Another way to be productive in communication is to listen more than you talk. You can get the other person to do most of the talking if you resist the urge to interrupt and use using open-ended questions during conversation. If you ask, “How was your day?” the answer could be a short, “good.” Instead, if you ask the open-ended question, “What did you do today?” you will get a more lengthy response.

To nurture our relationships while apart I suggest choosing a relationship-strengthening book and reading it together. Decide how much you are going to read per week and then set aside a special time to talk only about what you have read and how it can enhance your relationship.

Holidays are coming up, take time to pause even just for few minutes and reflect on things we are thankful for and be ready to express those to our love ones whether you communicate in person or over long distance. Communication it is the key to making human connections that lead to building strong relationships, which is what matters most in this life.