It’s the holidays again, and for a military family that can either mean a lot of fun, or some major discouragement. Being far from loved ones, whether it’s your deployed service member or your extended family, can be tough to deal with. Here are some ways our family has found to connect with each other and loved ones across the globe.
4 Tips For Surviving The Holidays As A Military Family
1- If you’re experiencing a deployment
I know that if you’re experiencing a deployment, the holidays can be a sad season. The fact that no place at the table is set for them may be looming in the back of your mind, and it’s not easy to accept it. Here are a few ideas to help you through:
- Spend time on the holiday making a card, writing notes, or having kids color pictures for the absent loved one. You can gather everything and mail it in a few days, but taking time that day can make it feel like they’re a part of your day.
- Coordinate time to talk with the deployed member in advance if possible. That way, it won’t be stressful during the crazy meal prep and other activities.
- Take time to remember why they’re doing what they’re doing. They didn’t want to leave you, even if they were looking forward to their duties. Considering the big picture of their commitment and sacrifice can help you get through the tough moments.
2- Staying connected with loved ones
Staying connected with our families is really important to us, even from opposite coasts. We take full advantage of technology to help us stay in touch. FaceTime, Skype and texting seem to be our go-to methods of communication. Scheduling around the time zones and P’s bed-time can be a challenge, but we make it happen.
3- Getting together with friends & family
We spent our first year as a married couple in Newport, Rhode Island. We went home for Christmas but opted to stay on the east coast for Thanksgiving. Adam had an aunt and cousins in Boston, so we made the short trip up there. It was a lot of fun to spend time with relatives even if it wasn’t our immediate family.
Military families we know have gotten together with friends in their local areas and shared cooking duties, enjoying togetherness and yummy food. Being around others can really lift your spirits and make the holidays more enjoyable.
4- Make a new tradition or create a new memory
Last year, we had just moved to Virginia and again decided not to fly to the west coast for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had the option to drive a few hours to be with friends for Turkey Day, but this time we chose to do our own thing.
We reserved a room at the Great Wolf Lodge and took P for two days of waterpark fun. It was a blast! Though we had to wait over an hour, holiday dinner at the Cracker Barrel was delicious. Plus no clean up. It wasn’t our normal Thanksgiving but we created some great memories and had fun as a family.
I hope you have fabulous celebrations this Thanksgiving season and that you can dwell on everything you have to be thankful for. I hope your turkey, ham, or whatever you fix is cooked to perfection, and that you get an abundance of all the sides and sweets that you’ve looked forward to!
And most importantly, I pray you are able to connect with loved ones, whether near or far. Making an effort to intentionally gather with others or create a new memory can make a huge difference in your holiday experience!