How You Can Still Celebrate the Holidays During Deployment
When you think of the holidays, you think of tradition. You immediately picture your family sitting around the table, watching Hallmark movies, cooking, playing games, and whatever else your family’s holiday traditions may be.
Unfortunately, as military families, this picture-perfect holiday image isn't always attainable. It just so happens that sometimes, our spouses receive orders that send them away over the holidays for a deployment or remote assignment, making our holiday without them far from traditional.
Although it's no one's idea of a perfect holiday, a non-traditional holiday can be a lot of fun if you learn to embrace it.
If you find yourself alone this holiday season, try some of these non-traditional and easy-to-plan ideas:
Host dinner for your friends.
Fellow military spouse, Brenda, says that she hosted Christmas on the beach one year when her spouse was deployed. She brought a Honey Baked Ham and pies that she made from scratch, while her friends brought side dishes and beverages. Several other military spouses reiterated to me the importance of spending the holiday with friends when your spouse is gone. In fact, Julie said that when her spouse was deployed, she enjoyed a quiet Christmas morning with her boys but made sure to join friends for dinner that evening.
Explore a new place.
Author of The Reluctant Landlord, Elizabeth, said that when her spouse was deployed over Christmas, she threw out the idea of trying to create a traditional Christmas and explored the state of California instead. She and a couple of friends planned their trip along the coast and spent their holiday visiting San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Though it wasn’t with their spouses, they spent the holiday fully embracing their non-traditional holiday together.
Whether it's traveling to visit your spouse, if you can, or a friends' trip, go somewhere you've never been before! With Space-A at your fingertips, you can plan a relatively inexpensive vacation and explore a new area outside the country. One year, my sister-in-law, stationed in Guam at the time, planned a trip with her friends and spent the holiday in Thailand traveling and exploring the country. Although far from the traditional idea of the holidays, they had a wonderful time together and would be something they’d do again if given the same circumstances.
Traveling home for the holidays allows you to enjoy the festivities with family. Going home gets you out of your house where you miss your spouse and around your extended family. The best part is, this trip is easy to plan and relatively affordable since you will probably only need to cover the cost of travel. Fellow military spouse Lizann said that, during the two Christmases her spouse missed, she drove the kids home to spend time with her family. Then they spent New Year's with his family so her kids could see all the grandparents. Spending the holidays with extended family is not something you will always be able to do, with or without your spouse. For example, if you are stationed overseas, getting home will be much more difficult, so embrace the opportunity to be near family while you can!
Missing your deployed spouse does not mean that you can't enjoy your holiday season this year. Use one of these four fun holiday ideas to have an extremely fulfilling holiday, and you may even wind up with a story to two to share with your spouse when they return home!