For the Military Spouse Who Can’t Go Home For Christmas
When I was in college, I went home every Christmas break. I loved that. A break from the college routine, a time to see my family and friends from high school. A time to be a “kid” again, if only for a few weeks. I can still remember going back to my apartment after my last final, finishing packing and getting ready to head to the airport.
When we first got married we decided that we would switch off each holiday. So one year we would spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. Then the next year we would switch. This worked well for 3 years. Then we moved and my husband joined the Army and that schedule went out the window.
The truth is, military families have a harder time going home for the holidays.
Going home is going to be easier if you live close enough to drive. You might even be able to go for just the weekend. If you are overseas or across the country from home, getting there for Christmas is going to be a bit more difficult. Christmas block leave is a great thing but not everyone gets to take it. And even when you do, you might not be able to afford to fly the whole family back home.
There are a lot of reasons why military families can’t go home for Christmas.
Maybe you just got married, going home just isn’t an option and this will be your first year away from home for the holidays. Maybe your husband is deployed and with three small children, flying across the country alone just isn’t something you can do. Maybe you don’t even have a good family situation to go visit this year or maybe finances are tight and you need to save for your upcoming PCS in the new year.
Maybe you have fond memories of previous years or your own childhood. Of setting up the tree together, of going Christmas caroling with your childhood church, of baking cookies with Grandma and of having a night out with your best high school friends who you haven’t seen in a while. If you can’t go home, even if it is your choice, you can start to feel sad about all that you are missing. And there really can be a lot to miss. To not be there when everyone else in your family is coming together can be hard to deal with.
If you can’t go home for Christmas, you should do what you can to make the holiday special anyway, with your own little family.
Think up new traditions that your kids would love. Are you overseas? Try to incorporate some of the traditions from the country you are in. Take them back with you when you move back to the US. If you know other families that are staying around for the holidays, make plans to get together with them. Embrace not having to travel during the busiest travel days of the year. Think about how your children will have memories of waking up in their own beds on Christmas morning. See if anyone will come and visit you during the holidays instead. Sometimes it is easier for one or two family members to come out to see you instead of all of you going to see them.
So for the military spouse that can’t go home for Christmas…
Make your holidays a special one, even if you are not where you want to be. Make sure to call your mom on Christmas day, think about the new year and enjoy the quietest and more simple Christmas that you are having in your own home. You can’t always go home for Christmas and that is okay. You can still have a special Christmas filled with happy memories and moments with your own family and local community.