Tag Archives: holidays

Twelve Years Later: Remembering September 11, 2001

september-11-soldier-at-memorialThink about the love inside the strength of heart.
Think about the heroes saving life in the dark.
Climbing higher through the fire, time was running out,
Never knowing you weren’t going to be coming down alive.

Twelve years ago, I was in 10th grade French class. Before I knew it, televisions throughout the school filled with images of a plane crash. A burning building. Fear.

It didn’t register to me. Why would it? My innocence could never fathom such a reality.

Then another plane crash.

Silence fell over my school. Teachers tried as best they could to make sense of the senseless, but no one really understood what the clouded, smoke-filled pictures on the television meant.

Third period History class. An ironic place to be on that day and at that time. The towers fell. The Pentagon.  Flight 93.

We all remember where we were. How we found out. We remember the silence as we watched it all unfold. Each of us are bonded forever by a historic tragedy.

I am grateful for every person who left their fingerprint on the 9/11 story. I am humbled by the firefighters, police officers, first responders, paramedics, volunteers, and those who didn’t have to help, but did.

Today, I am married to a man who was born on September 11th, and who selflessly serves this great Nation. As a military spouse, some days are filled with emotion and unanswered questions. Why are we fighting this long war? Why did my husband have to spend his birthday in Iraq?

But on other days, the picture is clear. Twelve years later, the picture is still crystal clear.

Thank you to the men and women serving and protecting my freedom. For fighting overseas, under seas, in the air, and on the land. Your sacrifices, as well as your family’s, have not gone in vain.

2,977 lost on that day. We will never forget.


Think about the chance I never had to say, “Thank you for giving up your life that day.”
–“Believe” by Yellowcard

Shannon-SebastianPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager


Happy Labor Day


Celebrating Presidents


Whether you have the day off or not, join us in celebrating the eight presidents the Association has worked with since it was founded in 1969. During this year’s Inauguration we reviewed our work during the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Sr., Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Check it out if you missed it the first time!

Do you have a favorite president? Who is it and why?

3 tips to beat the post-holiday slump

3 tips to beat the post-holiday slumpYou’d think with all of the stress that the holiday season often brings with it, we’d be happy to see it go. But somehow, after the perfect meals are cooked, you (and Santa) managed to get every must-have gift, and your in-laws have gone home, we feel sentimental as we crash land into January.

With freezing temperatures and grey skies, your favorite TV shows on winter hiatus (a personal struggle), and returning to work after vacation, it’s easy to catch a case of the new year blues. But there’s a cure! Consider these tips to help you come out of winter hibernation with a smile on your face.

Step 1- Take on something new

New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad rap, but even if you don’t exactly keep up with your mission to go to the gym six days a week, you can still do something with the intention behind that idea. Have you always wanted to see what the fuss was about Zumba? Lots of gyms have guest and trial passes at the start of the year, so you can grab a friend and try it out. Latin tribal dancing not your thing? Even committing to walking around the neighborhood once a day or finally digging out that cross stitch kit you never got around to re-gifting can be considered steps in the right direction or help get you out of a rut. This doesn’t just work for adults — get kids in on the fun, too. Sign them up for a new activity or set a reading challenge for the winter months. Taking chances and indulging whims are great ways to surge your endorphins. Who knows, something could stick and become a worthwhile habit.

Step 2- Get your mind right

Yes, it’s cold. Yes, you have to go to work or do chores around the house. No, you can’t stay in your sweat pants all day. Instead of growling at passersby until you get your coffee, try to approach each day differently. Think what you want about the hokiness of positive affirmations, but there is something great about stopping yourself mid-complaint and changing your viewpoint. We might not have control over morning traffic or grumpy cashiers, but we do have control over our reactions and perspective. Instead of carrying over old stressors and attitudes from last year, think of the new year as a clean slate. Take the extra time you’ll be spending indoors to get organized, quit the stinking thinking, and muster up some energy. April will be here before you know it.

Step 3- Treat yourself

When reading this step, your mind might have immediately jumped to a shopping spree or eating an entire cheesecake, but treating yourself comes in less elaborate forms, too. Shape your days so that at some point you can have a few “me” moments, be it reading your favorite blog (or magazine), talking on the phone (or texting), catching up on a show on the DVR, or going for a run. Sure, a full uninterrupted day at the spa is a fantasy for most of us, but carving out even 15 minutes to do something you like can make winter an easier pill to swallow.

Getting back into the swing of things isn’t always fun, but reshaping your approach, adding a few new activities, and taking some time for yourself could make the next few months fly by. However, if you feel like the blues are here to stay, seek help where you feel most comfortable, whether it’s talking with friends or family or a counselor.

How are you battling the post-holiday blues?

maranathaPosted by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor at the National Military Family Association

One last holiday gift

Last chance to donate for 2012 - your gift makes a difference!The wrapping paper is torn to shreds, your relatives have departed, and you couldn’t possibly eat another ham sandwich. The holiday season may be drawing to a close, but there are still gifts left to give this year!

As you kick your feet up and breathe a sigh of relief for another successful holiday season, you can put your weight behind a great cause without risking flashbacks of long lines and crowded shopping malls. Consider supporting the military families who stand watch as their loved ones miss holiday celebrations to deploy or participate in humanitarian missions for victims of natural disasters all over the world.

In addition, today is the last day to make your gift one that gives back— December 31st is the last day to make a charitable donation to be deductible on your next tax return.

Show your appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of service members and their families by standing with them and making a donation. Give in your own name or as a tribute to the important people in your life.

maranathaPosted by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor at the National Military Family Association

The Holiday Split

The holiday split - how do military families decide where to spend the holidays?It is that time of year again.  The time when you look back on the past 12 months and wonder where the days have gone. The time when the weather gets cooler, the kids are back in school and we are suddenly in the midst of the hectic holiday season! There are many things to think about regarding the holidays but probably the main question brought up before they start is: “Where are we going to spend them?”

This question can easily become an argument in many households. One spouse might feel like they don’t see their family enough and that should justify spending one holiday there. Another spouse might feel like their family holds more traditions and cannot see being away for the year. When you are a military family, this decision seems to get even harder.

It is a rarity that we live near our families. Maybe one tour during our military careers will put us near our loved ones, but let’s face it, we go where the job is.  That being said, visits are hard to come by and the holiday season might be the only time to see extended family during the year. Now, don’t go putting too much pressure on the situation or on your spouse. It is important to remember that holidays are supposed to be fun. We need to enjoy the time with those that we love.

If you and your spouse have this argument every year, it is time for a change. Make it easy and say we will do Thanksgiving at one house and Christmas at another. Then, the next year, you can switch! If it seems like other family members are putting pressure on you, then be honest with them about what you can and cannot do. Family is important, but they are also supposed to be understanding.

In the military, there are many men and women who cannot come home for the holidays at all. We always need to remember that and not feel so bad when choosing where to go because at least you have the choice!

How do you decide where to spend the holidays?

Posted by Rebecca Brinkley, a Volunteer with the National Military Family Association

A Christmas Tree Tale

A Christmas Tree TaleIt’s a particularly warm December day in Florida, but the Christmas spirit makes its way into the hearts and homes of thousands of military families. It is the day when every local military family has the chance to bring home a free Christmas tree. With the help of FedEx employees, the Trees for Troops organization brings thousands of freshly cut Christmas trees to military bases across the world. At MacDill Air Force Base, this annual tree giving event is highly anticipated.

I arrive at the location half an hour early and there are already dozens of families from all branches of Service ahead of me in line. The smell of freshly cut Christmas trees is enchanting. Holiday music is playing in the background and happiness sparkles in the eyes of the children. Everyone already has their perfect Christmas tree in mind and is anxious to pick it up.

As the hour of choosing a tree approaches, the organizers of the event serve us cookies and hot beverages. They are all smiling and thanking service members for the sacrifices they are making for the country. A sense of pride, accompanied by a smile, appears on the faces of military families present. I feel very fortunate to be part of this large family.

One by one, each person goes to pick out the tree of their choice. Children run and point their parents to the tree they desire. Everyone seems, for that particular moment, to have forgotten about all the worries in the world. FedEx employees help carry the trees to the cars and everyone rushes home to start decorating their new Christmas tree.

Once I select my Christmas tree, I notice it is accompanied by a hand written note thanking the troops for guarding our freedom and wishing them a Merry Christmas. I look closely and notice all of the trees carry the same message. It is a true gesture of respect and appreciation.

Among the events I attended at MacDill Air Force Base, this seems to be the one that brings most smiles and light to the community. Bringing a Christmas tree home becomes a symbol of hope and joy. This year, Santa Claus will have a few more decorated trees to admire as he spreads his gifts around the world.

What is your favorite holiday memory or favorite place you’ve spent the holidays?

Marlis Perez RiveraPosted by Marlis Perez Rivera, a Volunteer with the National Military Family Association

Bah-Humbug: The Christmas I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge

Tips for dealing with being separated from loved ones during the holidaysThe holiday season can be challenging for military families stationed far from family and friends. It is difficult to maintain holiday traditions if you can’t travel home or celebrate with your loved ones. Add a deployment to the mix, and you may feel less than festive.

My husband was deployed not one, or two, but three holiday seasons in a row. Bah-humbug was my motto. I avoided the mall, holiday gatherings, and didn’t want to decorate our home. Not only did I feel alone, but I also felt guilty about celebrating while my husband was serving in harm’s way.

I tried to be strong for my husband and when he called told him I was alright and finding new ways to experience the holiday. I sent him “Christmas in a box” packages and included items we could use to celebrate together: a CD of our favorite holiday music, DVDs of our favorite holiday movies, homemade holiday snacks, and festive treats. As I thought of ways for us to celebrate “together,” my heart soften and I began to don the holiday spirit.

Here are some tips that helped me through the holidays while my husband was away:

  • Accept that this holiday season will be different: Acknowledge your feelings. The holidays without your spouse will not be the same.
  • Find ways to celebrate together: Even miles apart, there must be something you can do “together.” You can read a holiday book, listen to the same holiday music, or eat the same holiday treats.
  • Create new traditions: I decided to spend quality one-on-one time with family and cherished friends. I invited a spouse who also had a deployed husband to my home. We spent a day exchanging holiday recipes and baking. We each learned new holiday traditions and had tasty treats to share.

What advice would you share with other military families who are celebrating the holidays apart?

katiePosted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Information
Manager at the 
National Military Family Association