We celebrated the Thanksgiving of 2008 a week early. My husband had the day off, so the Thursday before, I woke up with turkey and mashed potatoes on my mind. We had a full and fun day, and it didn’t matter one bit that we celebrated a week before everyone else was celebrating.
You see, on Thanksgiving of 2008, we would be doing something else. We would be saying goodbye to my husband for his 2nd deployment to Iraq. There was no way for us to celebrate Thanksgiving on the actual day, so we changed things around, and doing so was the best thing we could have done.
Years later, my husband was going to have to be gone for a few weeks for a new job over Christmas. When I first heard this I got really upset. Then I made a plan. When your spouse deploys, you learn how to get creative about things.
We changed Christmas morning to December 19th. And it worked out perfectly. We told the boys that Santa was going to come early because he knew their dad had to be away on the 25th. They went to bed on the 18th, just like they would have on the 24th. Everything worked out.
So then, when my husband left and the 25th came, we had already celebrated Christmas. We didn’t feel the loss quite as much, which was quite a relief.
As military families, we always have to adjust. We have to figure out how to make things work, even if we are not used to doing things that way. If you are getting ready for deployment or other separation around this time of year, you could be feeling a little down and frustrated.
However, there are a few things you CAN do to make this a little more okay. Here are some ideas:
- Decorate early
I have seen military families decorate for Christmas in October because the mom or dad was going to deploy in November. I have seen people put up the Christmas lights the first week of November because that has always been a tradition and they didn’t want to miss it this year. If your spouse is leaving around the holidays, why not decorate early so they can take part in it?
- Celebrate early
Like we have done in the past, why not celebrate a little early? There is no law that says you have to celebrate the holidays on the day they are on on the calendar. Figure out when the best time for your family to celebrate is, and celebrate then.
That way, when the actual holiday comes around and they are gone, you will not feel like you have missed out on celebrating together. You can even decide to celebrate early to take the stress of their deployment date out of the picture. Waiting to see if they deploy on the 23rd or the 26th is a lot less stressful if you already celebrated Christmas a week before.
- Video and pictures
One Christmas, when my husband was deployed, I videotaped my boys opening gifts. That way, my husband was able to watch everything and didn’t feel as left out. If your spouse is traveling over the holidays or getting situated in his new location for a deployment, there might not be time to connect on the holiday, but you can always share videos and photos with them later.
- Visit family
If your spouse is leaving for deployment around this time of year, going to stay with family can be a good idea. That way you are not as alone right when the deployment begins, and it is a more emotional time of year. Besides, your family will probably want to see you and your kids and celebrate with you this year.
- Take a trip
If you don’t have a family to go to or just don’t want to visit them this time of year, you and your kids could always take a trip over the holidays. You could even go with another spouse and their kids. Getting out of your house and visiting somewhere new can be a good way to get through this holiday season when you are starting a new deployment.
Life can be tricky when your spouse deploys around the holidays. You might not even know when they are actually leaving and as you get closer to the holidays you are used to celebrating together, things can get pretty stressful. See what you can do to make this year special anyway.
Do you have any tips for someone going through this? What has worked for you?