The 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?