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    Surviving a Military Move During the Holidays

    Moving boxes...cranky kids...more unpacking in front of me than behind me...exhaustion.

    All of the above could be a typical description of a military move, but add one more detail: December 19.

    Yes, we had received delivery of our household goods less than a week before Christmas. To my mind, skipping the holidays entirely made perfect sense. To my family? Not so much. They still expected—nay, demanded—that we do something to mark the holiday season. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to let the holidays go by without observing at least some of our family’s traditions, either.

    While summer is the typical PCS season, military families often move at other times of the year. And as if moving isn’t stressful enough by itself, add in the holidays and you may feel like opting out of any type of celebration entirely!

    How to cope with a move right smack dab in the middle of the “most wonderful time of the year”? Here are a few ideas that worked for our family.

    Let go of expectations.

    For the holiday and for your normal unpacking routine! You likely won’t get all your outside lights strung, nor will you finish unpacking every box in a week. And that’s ok. Give yourself permission to do what you can and not stress over what you feel is unfinished. If you’ve managed to make space to sit together and perhaps room for a Charlie Brown-type Christmas tree, then I consider that a success!

    Start new traditions. 

    Perhaps necessity dictates that you order your holiday dinner from the commissary or a restaurant, you only have time to shop for one present apiece, or you scale back on your guest list and focus more on family. What new traditions are you creating that might be worth observing again next year?

    Keep your sense of humor! 

    You may eat your Christmas dinner off paper plates while perched atop moving boxes. No, it’s not Norman Rockwell picture-perfect, but I suspect your family will remember the togetherness more than the chaos of moving. Some of our best family memories have sprung from moments like these.  

    Accept help. 

    If your new neighbors, your spouse, or even your children offer to help, accept it—even if it’s not how you would normally do things. Case in point: my teens offered to unpack the kitchen on one of our holiday moves. While it took me a few months to sort out where all the frying pans and spatulas had gotten themselves to, it was well worth having that task out of the way at the time!

    Remember to rest! 

    Between unpacking the house, settling into a new location, and dealing with holiday activities, it would be normal to feel that you must always be working on something. Be sure to carve out time for rest or a fun activity.

    Pause and enjoy the holiday season. The boxes will still be there--I promise! 

    Pinterest-CTAphoto credit: Great Beyond via photopin cc
    Jen McDonald


    Jen McDonald

    Jen McDonald is the Content Editor for MilitaryByOwner Advertising. She's a longtime writer, the author of the book You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse, the host of the Milspouse Matters podcast, and has been published in several books and numerous national publications. She was a military spouse for nearly 30 years and is the mom of four (including one son in the military). One of her happiest roles now is being a grandmother. She and her newly retired Air Force husband have been stationed all around the world from Europe to the Pacific and won’t count how many houses they’ve lived in because that would be too depressing. Her passion is encouraging young military spouses and regularly sharing about topics like military life, parenting, homeschooling...and now grandparenting! See more from Jen at her site, Jen McDonald and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , and Pinterest.

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