This time last year I was preparing to put my husband back on a plane overseas, he would be gone for Christmas and what holiday parities I would be attending was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to skip Christmas all together and spend a week at Disney World far from our family traditions and any holiday party.
The trouble with that plan, our son was still worn out from our big summer move. He was settling into his new routines and wanted to be ‘home for Christmas’ near his friends. In the end, I opted to fully decorate our house, bake cookies and wrap presents; we made the most of the first Christmas in our new home. We attended the neighborhood Christmas party and of course, I was the only one without my spouse by my side. Even though it was awkward at first I was happy to make new friends and to get to know our neighbors. We had the chance to Skype on Christmas morning with my husband and you know what? We made it through.
Will your spouse be deployed this Christmas? How are you planning on spending this holiday season?
Here are 3 tips on how to do Christmas during a deployment:
Keep it Simple
Reduce stress by streamlining your Christmas activities. For example, we have a tradition of sending baked cookies and chocolate covered pretzels to family members. Even though he wasn’t home last year, I still baked. I just baked less of a variety. Making small changes really helped me from stretching myself to thin. When spending time with extended family, set boundaries and don’t over commit yourself. It’s okay to excuse yourself from big gatherings to turn in early, or to take that Skype call.
Keep it Positive
Like I did last year, you might feel like skipping Christmas all together. If you have children, that may not be an option for you. Remember your attitude will be directly reflected in your kid’s attitude. If you are sad and stressed, they will be sad and stressed. Take time to get in a 30-minute walk or jog to reduce stress. Be sure you are getting enough sleep. Taking care of yourself is the best Christmas gift you can give your family.
Keep it Going
Trying to decide on what holiday traditions to participate in this year might be causing extra stress. Depending on which friends I talk to they have different advice on this topic. While one friend wouldn’t dream of driving to see Christmas lights without her husband so she is looking for a replacement activity. Another friend will not miss that tradition in an effort to keep things as close to normal as possible. The point is to do what feels right for your family. There is no right or wrong answer. If you have children, I would suggest keeping many of the same traditions to keep their holidays predictable. It’s also important they are able to connect with friends, consider letting them invite their friends over for a game night or Christmas movie night.
Chances are once you are hip deep in cookie baking, decorating, aka participating in the holidays you will find yourself forgetting, even if for a short time, the ache in your heart from missing your loved one. Just know your time is coming, next year you will be with your spouse and Christmas will be all the sweeter.
What is your advice on how to do Christmas during a deployment?
Strategies for a Stress-Free Holiday with Krista Wells, The Military Spouse Coach ™
How to deal with the Holidays when your spouse is deployed –by Army Wife Krystel Spell - SheKnows.com