Getting Through the Holidays During Deployment

Tue, Dec 16, 2014 @ 08:12 AM Jen McDonald Military Life

Let’s face it, celebrating the holidays while your loved one is deployed can be anything but cheerful. During one holiday season while my husband was deployed, I remember wishing I could pull the covers over my head in November and wake up magically in January so I could skip the whole thing!

Since a deployment hibernation isn’t an actual possibility and many of us have children who are looking to us to set the tone for the holiday season, we military spouses are great at figuring out how to get through this difficult time. Here are a few ideas that worked for us:

Spend it with extended family if possible.

We typically spend the holidays at home, but I’ve found that either having family visit or traveling to see them distracts us all a little bit from the sadness of missing my spouse.

Or start a new tradition.

If travel isn’t an option, combining forces for a holiday dinner with a neighbor or friend can be a nice change and diversion. This year, while my husband was gone for Thanksgiving, my teenagers and I decided to spend the day in pajamas since it would be “just us”! It was a very low-key, stress-free day. That has the potential to turn into something we keep going…

Reach out. 

Pay a visit to a nursing home or drop goodies off for the gate guards, firefighters, or other 24-hour shift workers at your installation. I often find that reaching out to others gives me new perspective.

MBO's Diane Christian has some more good thoughts about getting through the holidays during a deployment. Some strategies that made her list:

  • Find support, whether it’s friends or family.
  • Keep to a schedule, especially if you have younger children.
  • Keep your family’s holiday traditions.
  • Keep your spouse as involved as possible, by sending them gifts early and including them in the goings-on at home through Facetime and Skype.
  • Keep talking. Discuss what’s going on: good, bad, indifferent.

In Diane’s words:

“How many times have you heard, 'I don’t know how you do it?' Military spouses hear this phrase all the time. Here's a surprise--we really don’t have a choice; we just do it because we love our spouses and the military is their career! Remember, it is all about surviving the holidays in the best way possible for you, your deployed spouse, and your family!”

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