Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coffee, Anyone?

Yesterday I experienced another "first" in my Army life- I hosted a Coffee.

A "Coffee" is basically any get-together with a specific group of people. Unit FRGs (Family Readiness Groups) will have them typically once a month- they can be at someone's home, a restaurant, an outing or event, and can range from formal to a backyard barbeque. Someone even told me yesterday that she hosted an FRG coffee, and the theme was a slumber party- everyone came in their PJs! It is entirely up to the hostess what it will be like. Things like FRG Coffees tend to be less formal (and official etiquette followed less strictly), but there are other occasions where they are much more traditional. Because of the oddity of Jon's unit, the FRG isn't very active- I don't think they've actually done anything since I got here! But, more on FRGs later, as the time comes...

The Coffee I hosted yesterday was for the Chaplain Spouses group. We meet once a month as well, and they're pretty laid-back. There are actually 43 Chaplain Spouses here (most with deployed husbands), but at any given Coffee we'll have 10-15. It has been a great way to get to know these women, most of whom I would never have occasion to meet. It's a unique group, too, because our experiences range from those whose husbands just went to Chaplain School earlier this year, all the way up to the Installation Chaplain's wife- he's a full-bird Colonel who has been in the Army for 24 years.

At a Coffee, there is "official business" we do- introducing the new ladies, giving gifts to those on their way out, updating on who's having babies, who's husband is leaving, etc. There is also this thing called "Opportunities"- which I have realized is just the Army word for raffle! Instead of our group collecting dues, we do opportunities- everyone pays a buck for the chance to win the prize (and the honor of bringing the prize next month!). We talk about the next Coffee, and, well, that's about it. Last month the business led into a fantastic conversation about dealing with deployment in the context of being a chaplain's wife.

So, the house was cleaned, the lunch was made, the guests came, and two hours later, it was all over. I'm really glad I did it- with every Army experience I have, I realize more and more how much I enjoy this lifestyle. Even writing this, I had to think through how to explain things that have become second nature to me. When I started this entry, I had planned on telling all about the event, but it became more of an explanation of what exactly this ambiguous "Coffee" is.

I think one of the things I enjoy is the tradition that goes along with it. Yes, Coffees now tend to be informal get-togethers... but they date WAY back. They even have their own chapter in The Army Wife Handbook:
The tradition of military wives getting together for coffee dates back to the establishment of the first military posts. Wives of the frontier Army had to endure many hardships, and an hour or two spent sharing a cup of coffee with a friend must have been a welcome respite. Like so many of the social customs of the nineteenth-century military, this social tradition survived and evolved.

They have seen many different forms over the past two centuries; like everything, they have changed with the cultures and trends of the day.

Yesterday afternoon I mostly started blankly at the TV screen. Such activities have a way of taking it out of you... but, it was a great time, and now I have one more checked box on my list of things to do as a spouse!

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