Dec 26, 2011 12:23 PM
The holidays are traditionally a chance to spend quality time with family and friends, but for military families with loved ones currently serving overseas, it is a reminder of the sacrifice it takes to serve our country.
Debbie Gonzales is a proud Marine mom, both her sons have served as infantry Marines. Because of that, at least one of her boys has been deployed during the holidays for the past five years. This holiday season will be spent praying for her younger son's safe return.
"It's got that extra layer of 'oh we miss them even more' when they're gone for the holidays," said Gonzales.
The Gonzales family is no stranger to deployment. At this time last year Carlos, now 23 years old, was serving in Afghanistan. This year 21-year-old Felipe is somewhere off the coast of Somalia.
"We never know when we're going to hear from him," Gonzales said.
So for this family time is precious.
"We kind of plan ahead, we do as much as we can before they leave and then we catch up, we work on catching up when they come back," said Gonzales.
Carlos finished his four years of service in April, but knows all to well what his younger brother is going through.
"We've been gone for holidays, birthdays, weddings, anything and everything you can think of we've had to give that up," said Carlos Gonzales. "You kind of go into a deployment expecting not to have communication with your family and when you do it makes it that much better."
Debbie says the key to surviving multiple deployments is staying busy. She sends care packages and volunteers with the V.A. She also tries to keep it all in perspective.
"I think about the other parents who don't have their sons coming back," she said. "I keep them in my prayers."
Felipe will be out of the military by this time next year so Debbie is already planning to get the entire family together.