What that meant is that the moving company would be storing our HHG’s for several months before then transporting them to our final destination. Apparently, once in storage, they moved it to another storage facility where a second moving company took control of our belongings. Then, a third company transported them. And a fourth delivered them. During the summer, we moved the girls and I to Florida and awaited our delivery. It was a disaster. Every single one of my antiques suffered damage. Boxes were all but crushed. Boxes were missing. One half of the BACK of one of our couches was MISSING. Just, gone. Part of my grandmother’s china was gone. The mirror to our bedroom furniture, the first set of furniture my parents ever bought brand new in their marriage (and then passed down to us), was damaged beyond repair. Pieces of furniture were literally in pieces. It was shocking and heartbreaking. I had to take day-long, week-long breaks between unpacking any more belongings because I was crushed every time I opened a new box. Over $16,000 worth of damage/loss, and many things that just simply didn’t have a financial value.
But our Christmas boxes were all there. Whew. Right? Last year we didn’t go full-out decorating because, frankly, it was all I could do to put up a tree and a few ornaments because life was a bit crazy and, besides, we were flying to AZ to spend the entire Christmas break in the camper with my husband. So I believed all my Christmas stuff was fine. It was all there.
I was wrong. This year, we were thrilled that we would all be home together for the holidays. The girls each have a tree in their room, we have Brendon’s Tree (benefiting Ronald McDonald House) in the dining room, and then our family tree in the living room. Every year, this is my FAVORITE activity. Unwrapping years of memories and hanging them on the tree. Every single year the girls get ornaments from us, from family members… it’s a big deal. If we travel somewhere as a family that year, we buy an ornament to commemorate the occasion.
As we were unpacking all of the Christmas ornaments, I kept thinking, “Wait. This isn’t all of them, is it?” No. No it wasn’t. Now, 3 days later and me tearing this house apart thinking somehow I had stashed a box somewhere and just forgotten, I have realized that an entire box of my memories are just gone. Gone forever.
The Mickey Mouse music ceramic piece my father gave to me 20 years ago. Ornaments I had as a child. My oldest daughter’s first Christmas ornament, given to her by her adoring Aunt. My youngest daughter’s first ornament given to her by us. The glass red heart from the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth given to me to honor my late nephew, Brendon. My Marine Corps Wife ornament from my husband. Several nutcrackers we had started collecting as a family tradition, to include my FSU one I loved. So many ornaments from different people. And 3 pieces of our Christmas village that my parents had painted with my oldest over the years. All of them irreplaceable and incredibly valuable to our family.
Tonight we finally put up our family tree and placed the ornaments we have left on it. We do have some memories to hold on to. For that, I am grateful. My memory is pretty terrible. Every year I look forward to opening the boxes and actually remembering certain things that certainly would escape me otherwise. We finished, we put our angel on top… and then I sat and sobbed. I am devastated. Heart broken.
And yes, I realize it’s just “stuff”. I realize that at least my family is together, and that is what really matters. I am overwhelmed with a feeling of desperation for people who truly lose everything due to a fire, or a flood, or any other terrible circumstance.
But, you know what? I am also FUMING and so damn mad I could punch a wall. Here’s the thing, dear moving companies. You were paid to do a job. Yes, mistakes happen… but this happens to military families CONSTANTLY. Things are broken, destroyed, just go missing… all of the time. And you continue not to care. It continues to happen at an alarming rate, and yet you are still allowed to be trusted with the belongings of military members and their families. And I have no doubt it happens when you are moving stuff for families not associated with the military. It’s not okay, no matter who you are doing this to.
You are not just hurting people financially, you are disrespecting their memories. They TRUST you with years of memories and you seem not to care. Not one damn bit.
This should be criminal. Honestly, that is how I feel right now. Were we reimbursed for our loss? Yeah. Kind of. We finally settled our claim because I was just done with the whole thing. We received a little over $4000 for that $16,000 worth of damages. Did I make sure to log my complaint with the proper folks? Yes. But it doesn’t matter. People have been making complaints for years and this still happens. Are we hurting because we lost so much that we couldn’t replace it? No. A friend gave us a great couch they were no longer using, we have replaced a few things and have just dealt with the fact that some things are gone. I thought I had gotten past it.
But the ornaments? I can’t ever get past it. And I will never forgive myself for letting them touch my precious memories. We have always moved boxes of sentimental things ourselves, and we did with this final move. I just wasn’t thinking of Christmas in April.
My heart is broken, I feel violated, disrespected and, honestly, sick.
So what do we do? Here is my advice to anyone, military or not, who ever has to move. Do it yourself. Put them out of business and just move it all on your own. Or at the very least, only allow them to move things that are truly replaceable: a couch, a TV, your entertainment center. Anything else that holds any sentimental value at all… move it yourself. Going overseas? Leave those things with a trusted friend or family member until you return.
I am not kidding here. Let’s put them OUT of business. Do whatever you can… move your goods yourself.
And if, by chance, you are reading this and you got a random box of someone else’s memories delivered to you in the summer of 2015… please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be forever grateful.
Many Kind Regards,