Snow, cold days can lead to everlasting family memories

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Yes, Team Eifel, winter is once again upon us. Now is the time to get ready for the inevitable cold and white winter months.

In recent years, our military mission has evolved into one with an increased deployment rate. This increase in deployments has and shall remain an integral part of our Air Force, and since our time at home is sometimes scarce, the need for family gatherings along with many other social gatherings has never been so important.

During the winter months our activities tend to change to indoor things such as sitting around the fireplace, hosting a dinner party or traveling to a friend's home to socialize. Before we begin our yearly winter adventure, there are a few things to consider.

For some living in Germany, oil is the fuel of choice for warming a home. If you use oil, then by all means, fill your oil tank to ensure you will have enough for the entire winter. Keep in mind that when the demand is high the price will usually increase. If you have a fireplace, consider purchasing wood by cubic feet (60-80 Euro), and don't fret, because most wood sellers will deliver. Since we all want to conserve fuel, and our money, we should also remember to dress warm, even when indoors. Consider packing up the shorts and bringing out the sweaters, and also replacing sandals with boots. All this packing can be a daunting task, so plan ahead.

Establish a cleaning schedule for your outdoor area as well (Spangdahlem Air Base Bitburg Annex Military Family Housing complete this bi-annually). You might even consider cleaning and storing your barbecue grill for next spring, unless you plan on using it in the snow, like my husband. Getting a home in order is commonplace to many of us, but many place less importance on another important winter item; our automobiles.
Often times when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing we still manage to venture out to visit friends and family to share in the holiday spirit. We place a lot of security in our automobiles, so we should ensure our vehicles are up to the task. Consider a tune-up if one has not been accomplished in the last six months. A reliable vehicle through the snow is a comfortable one indeed. Make sure to equip your vehicle with the proper snow or all season tires as required by the new German law. This may save you the hassle of sliding off the road and a ticket or fine. Many people even have a small "winter kit" consisting of a small blanket, flashlight with batteries, nutrition bars and a few Euro just in case. Now that your automobile is in great winter shape, don't forget to bring the map and let someone know your travel plans.

This is the time of year when families travel to visit each other and we -- in the center of the universe -- get our share of family member visits. Although it seems like the sun never shines and the weather is gloomy, it is the most festive part of the year. Some of us might decide to pack up in the car and go on a road trip. Some of the wonderful sights Germany has to offer are snow covered castles, ice fishing on a lake, skiing or snow-boarding, or even taking that elusive winter vacation to Edelweiss Lodge and Resort. Shopping for great gift ideas is also an important part of travel this time of year.

There are trips to different areas in Germany to attend Christmas bazaars, purchase handmade wares, visit factories of linen and other clothes, or to purchase antiques and furniture. Whichever way you decide to spend your time away from work, always remember to inform someone of your plans. This will surely provide useful in case you need to be contacted, or lose you way.

When we travel to others homes, or invite guests to our own, we wait for the arrival of our guests with anticipation of good things to come. Laughing at each other's stories and even sharing some of our own brings a smile everyone's face. When friends and family gather around the festive table and give thanks for a wonderful celebration they unknowingly continue to take care of each other, thus still fulfilling the Air Force mission.

Happy Holidays to you from our Air Force family may yours be joyous and peaceful.

(Editors note: Tech. Sgt. Michael Nurse, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contributed to this editorial).