Military Family Holiday Memories: No Two Are the Same

Ahhh, the holidays are upon us. Visions of sugar cookies, crackling fires, and peaceful family gatherings swirl in my dreams. I’ve often wondered how different life would be enjoying the holidays in exactly the same way every year.

Those idyllic scenes of returning home to grandma’s, posing for pictures in front of the same porch, enjoying the same meals, year after year after year. No chaos, no planning, no surprises. Then I wake up, laugh to myself, and return to the life I actually live. A wild but wonderful, unpredictable but rewarding, chaotic and crazy military kind of life!

Steady, constant, and calm have never been in our vocabulary. Early years of marriage brought us overseas where Christkindl Markts, warm mugs of gluhwein, and a small, budget-restricted return home to grandma. An old photo of the two of us, our dog on our lap, and a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the background is a happy, but quiet, reminder that we were not surrounded by family that first year, nor some others that followed.


Our holiday photo collection has become an eclectic range of locales from snow-capped mountains to sunny beaches to European cities. In many photos, we’re surrounded by family who visited that year, while in others, we’re surrounded by friends and neighbors. A nostalgic one captured our family in a horse drawn carriage, while more somber ones captured the kids opening presents in front of a computer screen with dad on the other end.

This year will be our idyllic return home to both sets of grandmas. No deployment this year, our family unit will be whole. The old photo of the two of us with a dog has since morphed to five of us with a cat. I’m still secretly dreaming of those peaceful family gatherings, the steady and the calm. But who am I kidding? We have been fortunate that the years of celebrating together outnumber the ones spent apart, not one year repeating the previous, not one memory the same as the last.

This holiday season please keep our military families in your thoughts and prayers. Reach out to those who may be separated from loved ones with a simple, “How are you?” Consider inviting a military family who may be dealing with a deployment to join your holiday celebrations, or open your home to a single service member. The most memorable gifts often happen out of the blue and the most cherished ones are surrounded by families and friends who understand.

Are you a military family? What are your most cherished holiday memories?

Posted by Pikkwan Boston, Volunteer & Community Outreach Region Manager

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