The military is steeped with traditions, and honoring the traditions is one of the aspects of military life my family enjoys the most.
We also enjoy celebrating holiday traditions–military-style. For us, our holiday “traditions” are not always the same. We try for common themes; yet we don’t worry about small details because spending time with family or friends is more important than getting the holiday tradition right.
This is our son’s fifth Christmas, and third Christmas in a new house. Ever since he was born, I’ve made it a point to decorate for the holidays. He loves it. He loves looking at the calendar and planning out what event or holiday is next. He likes to create art projects and proudly display the handmade creations on our walls. With a military lifestyle, it can be difficult to replicate the same traditions each year.
This year, my son wanted to have a small Christmas tree in his room. My gut reaction was to say no; I don’t need another item to set-up, store, or take down. But before I said no, I thought about his request. At age five, he wants to be involved in holiday traditions and have some ownership and traditions that are uniquely his own. With another new house, I thought, why not?
Here are my tips for honoring holiday traditions…military-style:
- Be Flexible. In military life, holiday celebrations are constantly changing. One year you may be able to celebrate with family and the next year your service member may be deployed. Your traditional family meal or outing may have to be swapped for something that is convenient and fits the moment. Pizza for Christmas dinner? Sure!
Ban “Perfect” from your Vocabulary. I have to remind myself of this often. It doesn’t have to be perfect. When my one year old and five year old had finished decorating the tree in my son’s room, I wasn’t thrilled that all of the ornaments were clumped together, or hanging from bookshelves and stuffed animals, but they were happy and proud of their work. I sometimes find them playing Santa, and having a tree they can play with keeps them busy and makes them feel involved.
- Redefine your family traditions. What makes something a tradition? Is it an event or ritual repeated each year? Maybe you aren’t located in an area where you can find a fresh tree or attend a tree lighting ceremony. Check out the local events and try a new tradition, like sledding down sand or watching a holiday movie while floating in a pool!
Whatever holiday traditions your family likes to honor (or not), remember what becomes a tradition is up to you.
Does your military family honor holiday traditions?
Posted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Issue Strategist