I am not going to pretend that I’m the guru of homecomings (or anything military, for that matter). I’ve only been through one and am in awe of the couples who have been through two… or three… or five… or more.
But for those of you who are anticipating or are in your first deployment, this may come in handy for you! (If you’re looking for our homecoming story, check it out here.)
Bring someone along.
I drove to the base with my friend Ashley who was also picking her husband as well. After we found out we had been given the wrong time by the FRG, and after we made it onto base, we both looked at each other and said, “I’m so glad I’m with you.” When you’re operating on a few hours of sleep and a brain full of emotions, having another person to help problem-solve any last minute dilemmas, or even just to stand and wait with you is important.
Get someone to take a picture.
I only have four photos from John’s homecoming, all of which are selfies. I wish we would have asked someone at the airport to take a full-body photo of us, but I felt my nerve interrupting other celebrating families and couples. I know people who have brought photographers along to photograph the entire homecoming. You don’t need to go as far as that (I wouldn’t), but you may want to bring a friend or family member along (see the first tip) so they can get the first hug and smooch. You’ve waited for a long time for them!
Plan your homecoming outfit early… so you can change it… a few dozen times.
I bought three homecoming outfits. Yes, three. And all three of them have now turned into honeymoon outfits. Why? Because I looked at them while I was packing the day before, and realized that none of them were “worthy” of the occasion. They were cute sundresses, but wouldn’t pack or travel well while I sat in a car for a seven-hour drive (which actually turned into a nine-hour one). I ended up choosing something from my closet– something that John had seen me wear before. and something that I felt completely comfortable and pretty in. Which leads to tip four…
Put a little effort in.
It was a long four, or seven, or twelve, or fifteen months. You are tired, nervous, emotional, and completely sleep-deprived. But for the love of everyone else at the homecoming, wear something nice. Your loved one might not care if you’re in too-short Soffees and a ketchup-splattered top, but inadvertently, you’re going to be in the backgrounds of other people’s pictures. There will be tons of cameras documenting every angle of the homecoming– and they won’t be individuals’ cameras. There will most certainly photographers from the military and there may be newspaper photographers or other journalists there too. I’m not saying dress to the nines if that’s not your thing. Just wear a nice top and jeans.
Charge your phone and your camera!
Buy a car charger and make sure that your electronics are fully functional and charged the entire day. (Don’t forget to make sure your SD cards are empty, too!) You’re going to do a lot of calling, texting, tweeting, and Facebooking leading up to the moment of homecoming, and then afterward as well. Even more importantly, you want to make sure that you’re available for any updates or any changes in the homecoming plans. Don’t be stuck in a frustrating cell-less situation that could have been prevented.
PS. For more military homecoming tips, read 51 Tips for Deployment, Homecoming, and Everything In Between.