I love the holiday season. It’s my absolute favorite time of year because it brings families together to celebrate the wonderful things in our lives. When I was single and lived away from my parents, I always made my way back to my childhood home. It meant everything to be able to spend Christmas with them.
Then, I married my husband and for the first 2 years of our relationship, we were lucky to spend it together with my parents. It felt amazing that the most important things that I loved were together.
But, what if you have a loved one that can’t be home for Christmas because of military duty?
Military families are not strangers to separation. Last year, my husband couldn’t be home. I was bummed and seriously didn’t know how I was going to get through a holiday that was typically joyous for me. It’s easy to dismiss the holidays when your spouse is away, so I turned into a bonafide Grinch.
It’s not fair to yourself and the family members that can actually spend time with you this holiday season. Don’t forget the true spirit of the holidays and enjoy yourself and remember all the special moments outside the holiday season that makes it worth it.
Here are my top 6 ways to amp up the holiday spirit, when your spouse is deployed.
- Stay with family. I exercise this rule a lot. I find that family is a wonderful backbone. Whenever I feel alone, I reach out to them. It’s understandable that sometimes flying or driving to family might be hard, but along your military journey, you’ve most likely made lifelong friends that are a part of your military family. The most important thing is to not be alone. Even with your beloved away, there are so many other people that care about you. Remember that.
- Trim the tree and hang the stockings. Keep your family traditions alive and still do everything that you’ve done with your spouse around. Seriously, no cheating when decorating and if you do need help with anything heavy or new ideas, enlist your friends to help you.
- Treat yourself to an unexpected gift. As you’re Christmas shopping for others in your family, throw in some items that you’ve been wanting yourself. Last year, I bought a pair of awesome black knee high boots. Yes, it was a little impractical, but I wear these boots every other day during the winter months. When I wear them this year, it’s a nice reminder of the things that I managed to do while he was away. Make sure you plan some “me” time.
- Attend a holiday-related show. A friend took me to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Wow. Talk about getting into the holiday spirit! I loved it. There are tons of other shows out there that are holiday-themed. Local ballet companies perform The Nutcracker, so that’s a nice option. Take a look at your local theaters for any other shows or maybe plan a trip to a nearby city that is putting on a good show. Ask around for recommendations.
- Plan (if you can) holiday Skype dates with your spouse. When my husband was away, I looked forward to the moments I could see his face. During the holiday season, it was extra special to see him because I was able to share with him everything going on. It meant so much to be able to have any time to talk face-to-face. Every Skype date helped me charge through the holiday season to our inevitable reunion.
- Document the holiday season for your spouse. Although your spouse isn’t there in person, they are there in spirit. I’m sure they would appreciate anything that helps them imagine that they are home. The beauty of modern technology is that we have phones that can take pictures and video at any time. When you’re out and experiencing a fun festive activity, grab your phone and snap a few shots. At the end of the season, it’s fun to print everything or create an electronic album to share, so when your spouse comes back, you can relive the memories as if he was there.