It’s almost November, that means the holiday season is right around the corner. November brings colder weather, sweaters, hot chocolate, lighted fireplaces, and Thanksgiving. December brings Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and snowy days.
This time of year is festive and made for families, but what happens when your spouse is deployed? What do you do when Thanksgiving this year is just you and your three-year-old, while your husband is serving overseas? How do you get excited about Christmas when you know the whole day you will be missing the love of your life? How do you get through the holidays when all you want to do is spend your first Christmas together, but you can’t because they are away on the other side of the world?
Here are ten tips for a military spouse getting ready to go through this holiday season with a deployed spouse:
1. Decorate like you normally would
Set up the tree, put out your decorations, and get your home looking like you usually do during this time of year. Just because your spouse is gone, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t decorate. You might even want to buy a few new decorations this season. Keeping your home festive will help with your mood, even if you are missing your spouse.
2. Focus on your daily work
Whether you work outside the home, work from home, or stay at home with the kids, focus on what you have to do each day. Don’t slack off on what you need to be doing. Focusing on your work will keep you busy and allow time to pass.
3. Plan to Facetime
Facetime or Skype as often as you can during this time of year. Even if you only chat for a few minutes. Seeing one another or getting excited about the holidays together can help your mood.
4. Send an amazing holiday package
Put together an amazing holiday care package for your spouse. Include some Christmas treats or anything you know they would love. You can fill a stocking, make baked goods, or just include some of their favorite items to help them celebrate the holidays, even when they are away from home.
If you can, spend time volunteering during this time of year. A lot of organizations are in need of helpers this time of year. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, work to bring gifts to those who can’t afford them, or just be there to step in within your community. Giving back is a way to get the focus off of what you are missing and to help others.
6. Spend it with family
If you can, plan a trip back home. No, it will not be the same since your spouse is deployed but it can still be a fun holiday. Your kids can be around family and see what Christmas was like for your growing up.
7. Spend it with friends
If you can’t go home, find some friends in a similar boat as you are. Make plans to hang out during Thanksgiving or Christmas. You don’t have to spend all of Christmas day together but coming together on that day for a meal or even dessert can be good for all of you.
8. Open presents over Skype
If your spouse is deployed over Christmas or Hanukkah, you can film or Facetime/Skype while you are opening presents. This can be a way to bring in your deployed spouse to the day. One option is to set up your video camera to record the whole thing. This is nice when you have young children and your spouse still wants to see the joy of Christmas as they open their gifts.
9. Let the kids help
Let your kids help you decorate. Have them put the ornaments on the tree or come up with a different holiday theme. If you know they won’t want to eat a traditional meal, do something different. You can do whatever you want to have those special memories with your kids.
10. Celebrate early, or late
As military families, sometimes you will need to celebrate early or late. If they are going to deploy in November or December, celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas early. Do everything you would typically do, but on a different day. That way when the actual holiday rolls around you know that you were able to celebrate together anyway.
Remember, if they are gone this holiday season, they will probably be home the next. Try not to think they are missing a huge part of life. It might feel like they are at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, it is simply one year.
You can still have a fantastic holiday season, even if you are missing them. What tips do you have for surviving the holiday season without your spouse?