Military mom bakes 52 batches of cookies for son in Iraq
Posted April 12, 2016
RESTON, Virginia — When her son was deployed to Iraq for a dangerous mission, a military mom took on a mission of her own — in the kitchen.
Just after Christmas in 2006, Maggie McCreath got the phone call she’d been dreading. Her only son, Buddy, was being sent to Iraq to combat the violence that was ripping the country apart, Today reports. Buddy McCreath — a paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airbourne Division — had already been deployed to the war-torn country once before.
McCreath didn’t have much time to digest the news — Buddy was shipping out in just five days.
“I thought to myself: I can’t do this again,” McCreath told Today.
While most people eat cookies to cope with stress, McCreath decided to bake them. A new kind, every week, for the 52 weeks her son would be away.
“I was trying to figure out: I’m home, he’s overseas — how am I going to handle this?” the single mom told Today. “The baking was an automatic go-to.”
McCreath — who’d taken to baking as a young girl — came up with a plan to feel connected to her son, even though he was thousands of miles away. She’d pack up a box of each week’s cookies and send them to her son in Iraq.
The task wasn’t easy — not only did McCreath have to come up with 52 different recipes, she also had to make sure the cookies would stay fresh on their journey to the Middle East. She spent the weekdays creating the recipes and spent weekends whipping up her culinary creations in the kitchen.
When the cookies had cooled, she’d stuff them into airtight containers and ship them to Buddy and his fellow soldiers — praying the taste of home would provide comfort to them in an often terrifying setting.
And while the soldiers eagerly awaited the care packages each week, the cookies were sweet to the baker as well.
“It gave me something that had to be done so that I couldn’t just sit around and wallow in self-pity. Or worse yet, watch the news 24 hours a day because the news was just horrible,” she told Today. “It helped me maintain who I was.”
Buddy returned home safely just after Valentine’s Day in 2008. While he would go on to serve two more tours in Afghanistan, he’s currently living in Alabama, training to fly helicopters, Today reports.
McCreath — who has written a memoir and cookbook called “52 Weeks of Cookies: How One Mom Refused to Be Beaten by Her Son’s Deployment” — looks back on that cookie mission as a source of strength.
“You’ve got to find that mission you are going to be on while your son or daughter is deployed that’s going to give you purpose,” she said.
Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.