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He left in November of that year for his 2nd deployment. That meant he was going to miss Christmas. We were also not going to be going home as we were in Germany and the idea of traveling with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old over the holidays was a little too much. Plus, my parents were coming to visit around my birthday in January.
As I looked ahead to Christmas day I couldn’t help but be sad about my husband missing the holiday. Our boys were still so young. These holidays are important. They are what we will look back to years in the future, the Santa years when everyone was young enough to believe and the toys were rather simple.
But there was nothing I could do. My husband would be in Iraq that Christmas and we would be home in Germany without him. The good thing was I was not alone. There were quite a few other spouses going through the same thing, being without their spouse for Christmas. This included one of my best friends, who also had small children.
We decided that being by ourselves this Christmas wasn’t going to work well for us. We also knew that we needed to plan something to help us get through the day. We made plans. We would spend Christmas morning with our own children, watch them open their gifts, and then meet up to make Christmas dinner together while our kids played.
This was one of the best things we could have done. Were we still sad and missing our husbands? Yes, but we had something else to focus on and so did our kids. That Christmas didn’t turn out to be too horrible after all and all it took was a little planning to make the holiday special.
I know this year is different. Spending time with friends or family might not be an option for you. Many people are struggling even more than normal because of this pandemic. But service members are still being deployed, and many military spouses are going through another holiday without their spouse at home with them.
The key to getting through the holiday season without your spouse by your side is to make the holiday special anyway. Do what you can to bring in the holiday joy, even if you don’t feel like doing so. Here are some great ideas on how to make your holidays special, even when your heart is an ocean away:
Plan Your Special Days
If you celebrate Christmas, plan that day out. What will it look like? Where will you eat? How will you spend that time? Find whatever will work for you and your family. Just plan something. Even if your plan includes taking the kids to a park and picking up fast food on the way home.
What will Hanukkah look like this year? What about New Years? Start planning now to figure out how those days can still be special for you and your children.
Save a few presents to open when mom or dad is back home, even if that will be June. You can have a mini-Christmas later. You don’t even have to let your kids know there are more presents. You can save presents for your deployed spouse as well. Make a fun day of your mini-Christmas after the deployment is over.
Your spouse might miss Christmas but they can still see what you did that day. Take photos of everything you do. Make an album and send that in your next care package or save it for when they get home. Your spouse will want to know how you spent the day.
Decorate your house anyway, even if doing so seems hard. Sometimes people just don’t have the desire to do so but try to make yourself decorate anyway. You will be glad you did.
Life can’t stop just because they are deployed. Life has to keep moving, that includes decorating for the season. You can always put your tree up early if they are deploying right before the holidays. Sometimes we military families do things on a slightly different schedule than everyone else. You can also leave the holiday decor up longer than usual so your spouse can see everything when he gets home.
Video Chat With Family and Friends
I know we are probably all sick of Zoom but the holidays can be a good time to video chat with friends and family. Some families enjoy having the video chat on while opening gifts or even having a meal together.
Being able to reach out to others like this can be a good way to combat loneliness. Our family loves using the Facebook Portal and while talking on that is not the same as being together in person, it feels good to connect in that way.