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When we first got married we decided that we would switch off each holiday. One year we would spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. Then the next year we would switch.
This worked well for three years. Then we moved and my husband joined the Army and that schedule went out the window. Among other things that changed when we became a military family.
As a military spouse, you sometimes have to let go of what you thought your life would look like. And that includes how you spend your holidays. One year your spouse might be deployed, and the next you could be PCSing from one part of the country to another. Your plans have to be flexible.
This year, however, we don’t have to feel as alone. This year, during a pandemic, everyone is being told to stay put. Everyone is being told to not travel during the holidays. We aren’t the only ones having to change the way we do things during this time of year.
A little bit of the pressure you might normally feel has been lifted, at least for 2020. Maybe you were dreading the long drive back home, or maybe the cost of airline tickets was hurting your pocketbook.
There are many reasons why going home for Christmas can be hard for military families. But at least this year, staying in your own home is more normal. At least this year, it is a lot more understandable to the civilian world why you would not be traveling around the holidays.
During a normal year, you still might feel like you just want to stay in your own home. Your spouse may be deployed, and the idea of traveling across the country with three kids is just too much. You might have just moved into a new home, and want to set up there instead of leaving everything to spend the holidays in someone else’s home.
Not being able to go home for Christmas can be emotional, no matter the reason. And this year, even more so. But even if that is what you have planned to do, you can still feel a bit disappointed by it.
You might miss the way you always got together with relatives for Christmas Eve. You might miss the last-minute holiday shopping you would do with your sister, or how you would bake Christmas cookies with your grandma and cousins.
If you can’t go home for Christmas this year, know you are not alone. So many families are staying local, and not traveling. So many families are having to pivot and change the way they do the holidays.
The good news is, there are so many things you can do from your very own home. Start some new traditions and enjoy the time you have together. Make the holidays the way you want them to be, after all, you are in your own home, and you can do exactly that.
Are you overseas? Try to incorporate some of the traditions from the country you are in. You can then take them back with you when you move back to the US.
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. We have been doing this for years, and I LOVE that my kids will have memories of waking up in their own homes and coming downstairs to see the Christmas magic.
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 you might find that being in your own home is exactly where you want to be for the holiday season.