The holidays are all about celebrating the season and spending time with family and loved ones, even if it is only over a video chat. We have all tried to adjust to seeing friends and family less during the pandemic and following varying social distancing rules, but add in a holiday deployment and it can feel like too much.
When a loved one is deployed, it can be a challenge to keep connected to your spouse. We want our spouses to feel loved and special during the holiday season. Here are some ways to share holiday spirit and love by focusing on these four areas:
Plan to Celebrate on a Different Date:
Many families celebrate holidays early, like military spouse Kristen from White Gloves Optional, who shares, “We've also had Christmas in July - decorated tree, hot chocolate, footie pajamas included!” or postpone the festivities until their loved one returns from deployment. This is what my family plans to do for Thanksgiving, which is my husband’s favorite holiday. We will have one Thanksgiving with extended family in our "quarantine circle", and another when he returns (this gives me a chance to eat pecan pie twice, win win).
Plan in advance for thoughtful Care Packages:
SEND EARLY. Don’t miss for ensuring your package arrives on time. I would allow for extra time since the postal system is so taxed. USPS generally published their holiday shipping mail by dates in early November. Here is the 2019 schedule to give you a reference! Military spouse Alejandra from Three Little Ferns shares, “I sent a care package with items that represented and actual turkey dinner- turkey jerky, canned corn and microwave mashed potatoes”. Here are some more ideas for a Thanksgiving and Christmas care package.
Get Creative with Family Traditions: Just because your spouse is away, doesn’t mean they cannot partake in some of your time honored holiday traditions. Send them a set of the matching pajamas you bought for the rest of the family, include them in your family Christmas card send them a list of what the family is thankful for, ask for their input in meal planning and take plenty of photos and make them into a quick photo book to send in the next package (or use Chatbooks©, which ships free to APO FPO addresses). As silly as it may seem, a small cardboard cutout of your spouse makes family members smile and will liven up any photos taken! My two little girls love the “daddy on a stick” and like to include him in tea time and dance parties.
Keep communication as open as possible:
Share your feelings and expectations early so neither of you feel extra disappointment over a missed opportunity when the holidays arrive. My spouse is generally stoic, but I know being away for the holidays is harder for him. Instead of feeling that I am shouldering the burden of handling all of the holiday preparations, tasks and chores, I try to keep in mind how lucky I am to be experiencing the holidays with our two beautiful children while he works hard on deployment. If I focus on having a grateful heart and disposition, the holidays run a lot smoother.
As the holidays approach, I will be thinking of all the deployed men and women who will spend this time away from their family, and I hope that they have a chance to feel loved, appreciated and connected with their family, even from afar.
How do you stay connected to your deployed spouse during the holidays? Please share in the comments.
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