The holidays are a wonderful time of the year in which we are surrounded by family, friends and joyous cheer. But, for a military family going through a deployment, the holidays are just another reminder of how that deployed member won’t be home.

I have spent quite a few holiday seasons without my husband, and my children without their father. While I was going through my own range of emotions, I knew that keeping the spirit of the holiday alive meant helping my children cope through their own sadness of missing daddy.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind this holiday season while combating a holiday separation:


    1. Communicate: I have always found that asking my children questions and being able to answer them, really puts them at ease. We may not always have the answer they want to hear, but letting them know that you are always there to talk really does help. I also encourage your spouse to do the same. Even if communication is hard, an email or phone call helps tremendously.

    2. Make Time: I consider the holiday season like a coin. There are happy times on one side and stressful times on the other. It really is a toss-up and you never know which side it will land on. I encourage everyone to make time for themselves. Engage in activities that help you recharge and reduce stress like exercising, going for a walk, going to the movies or inviting a friend over. Sometimes all we need is a good talk.

    3. Avoid Overspending: Spending money this time of year is hard to avoid. But don’t fall into the trap over overspending to help you feel better. What this can lead to is a depression once the bills come in. Involve the children in making homemade gifts and spend the same way you would if your spouse were home.

    4. Take One Day at a Time: You should remember that you aren’t a superhero. No one said this time of year would be easy, but you need to continue moving forward as if your spouse were home. This should not be the season of making changes. Stay focused on what’s important and meaningful to you. And don't beat yourself up if you feel upset, recognize it as normal feelings.

Overall, remember to have realistic expectations and understand that the holidays are not supposed to be perfect. Make the best out of this time and enjoy the time to you have.

Happy Holidays!


Related feature:
Citizen Soldiers: Blogger Reflects on Life as a National Guard Spouse

Have something to add to this story? Share your insights below!

Angela Caban is a military columnist and published author. Her husband, who was deployed in 2008, was one of the many soldiers impacted by the unprecedented activation of the Army National Guard. In 2010 she founded the Homefront United Network to provide assistance and family support through encouragement, educational articles and resources. She is dedicated to assisting National Guard and Reserve families with resources and ensuring no spouse or family member is left behind.

Jen Pilcher
Frequent Visitor

Thank you for sharing such an important post.  When my husband and I were married in 1998, however he soon left for a 6 month deployment and therefore we were not together on our "first married" Christmas.  So now I have an ornament that reads 1998 - Our First Married Christmas" and another one that says "1999 Our First Married Christmas" since that was our first one together.  The kids love hanging both of these ornaments each year.  Thanks for sharing Angela - you are an amazing writer!  Merry Christmas and Happy NewYear - Jen

Angela Caban

Thank you, Jen. A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well!