The holiday season can be stressful, however for military families the dynamics of being separated can add an additional element of stress and anxiety. Many onlookers, who aren’t from a military background, don’t understand the constant struggle that a deployment has on a family. The holidays are proposed to be a time when families come together to make memories that they’ll cherish for a lifetime – yet, when a member of the family is not present the idea of enjoying the holidays can feel impossible.
Rest assure friend, it’s not impossible. Military survival during the holidays is difficult, but if you work as a family together you can make the holidays a joyous occasion. It’s important to remember the person that’s missing on deployment. Organize efforts to bring joy to their life despite their distance. Make crafts, write letters and take pictures that will bring warmth to the deployed military member. These holiday themed crafts, hand written letters and photographs will bring home to their surroundings. Moreover, children will feel involved within the deployment and will find happiness by preparing these items for their loved one. Involving the children in making these items will also promote positive energy – and during a deployment the emotions of missing a loved one can turn into a whirlwind of a negativity if you’re not careful.
Whenever possible Skype or Facetime with loved military that are away. Try to schedule times during important dates during the holidays. For example, if there is a holiday themed play – try to interact during this time. Not only will the military member feel more involved because they’re able to view the activities in real time, but everyone will benefit because they’re experiencing an event at the same time. During Hanukkah, family members can involve their loved ones during the lighting of candles through Skype of Facetime as well. It’s important to make time for each other – even though some rescheduling may seem awkward or difficult at times, the memories will be cherished.
As difficult as it may be, it’s also important for life to carry on. Yes, holiday occasions will feel weird without the whole family together however it’s important to still celebrate traditions. If the family usually goes to pick out the family Christmas tree then the tradition should still go on. Allowing a deployment to completely stop a family’s course will only further depress family members and further belittle the overall spirits. Another option to maintain positivity and still function as a family unit is to create new family traditions. If you’re overwhelmed taking care of a house full of kids then opt for a holiday dinner at a local restaurant. You’ll appreciate everyone sharing a meal and the cleanup that you don’t have to worry about later on.
Don’t allow life to stop because of a deployment. Plan a special trip with family and friends. Making the best out of a circumstance will allow you to take your mind off of your loved one being away and will also help you focus on the family that you do have beside you. With this in mind, switch your default answer to ‘yes’. This means when friends are gathering for cookie swaps and holiday parties, you automatically accept their invitation. Of course, it won’t be the same because your loved one is away however it’s important to stay social and positive during this time of absence. Commit to attending an event for at least one hour and invite your military member to Skype or Facetime during the event – sometimes a change of scenery will be joyful. It will also give your loved one away an opportunity to see friends that they aren’t able to see because of the deployment.
There will be days when times will be very trying and you may feel like a complete loner – and that’s perfectly okay and normal. You love this person that’s away and there’s no quick fix to make the feelings go away. Incorporating some of these tips will get you through the holidays while your loved military member is away. Making efforts to stay positive throughout the deployment will go a long way. It’s important to remember that life goes on and stops for no one. Choose to live your life and make the most out of the life God has granted. Be strong for your family. Be strong for your kids. Be strong for you. Choose to make memories that you and your loved ones will cherish versus allowing negativity to take over.