By Marguerite Cleveland
One of the most difficult things about being a military family is being away from all your relatives during the holidays. You miss the local holiday traditions and activities especially if you looked forward to sharing them with your children. Although you can’t get the same experience you can recreate it where you currently live and maybe find some new experiences that your family will love.
Going to See the Lights – This is always a popular event whether it is that cool neighborhood known for its Christmas Lights, the drive thru extravaganzas with thousands of lights or walking through Zoolights. The good thing is these events are available just about everywhere. If Zoolights are your thing check the website of your local zoo which is bound to have this holiday tradition. Make sure to check since many offer a military discount or military days. As an Army family we are rarely stationed near a coast but this year living near the Puget Sound we’ve discovered a new event, the lighted boat parade. So cool and there are three different ones located not far from our base.
Base Activities – Most military installations have some type of holiday traditions. In our case it is the annual tree lighting ceremony. This is a great way to come together with military families who are also missing home. The chapels will also have holiday services for a variety of faiths and denominations. Consider inviting a single service member or young couple to a holiday dinner.
Snow – Not all locations you are assigned to will have four seasons so sometimes you have to improvise. Our family was stationed a number of years in the south and my children have unique memories of “snow”. In Savannah, Georgia they actually brought in a few truckloads of snow and dumped it out downtown for the kids to play in, a big hit with my children. I have to admit the plastic flooring with water on it to simulate ice skating, not so much. At Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia the big holiday event has real snow for tubing. If you live in a snowy climate there are plenty of options. National and State Parks will have snow play areas and there are bound to be great hills for sledding.
Local Holiday Events – Google (name your location) and you should be able to locate a visitors bureau for your location. The website will include an event section and you can find all the information about things that will appeal to your family. You’ll find everything from caroling, ice skating, holiday lights, Christmas Shows etc. Some locations will offer Polar Express Train Rides and often fairgrounds will have events.
I have found the key to a happy holiday season is not to focus on the things you miss, but the things you have. It’s a lot of responsibility but I’ve found as a military spouse if you make the effort to be happy then the whole family will follow suit. Get excited about all the new things you might never have seen if you hadn’t moved. So Happy Holidays to all.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com