Auburn is not just home to one of the largest Veteran’s Day Parades in the country; many military families call it home as well. Western Washington is also home to many government agencies. This time of year can be hard on military and government families. With that in mind, we reached out to our friend NoraLee Jones at MrsNavyMama.com to get some tips for military significant others to help survive the holidays.
These tips are also helpful for partners (and families) of law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS workers, dispatchers, and medical/hospital staff. From the Auburn Examiner, we’d like to extend a very big THANK YOU to those who work in these professions, and their families, for giving up your holidays so that we can have a safe and happy holiday with our family.
A Special Letter From Santa
Something we came across on Facebook that we thought was too wonderful not to share was this letter from Santa, offering children of parents who work on Christmas ‘Alternative Delivery Dates.’ The letter originated for children of military personnel and first responders, but since it went viral the creator has made other versions.
The various versions are available for download through GoogleDocs:
If that’s not enough, Norad also made a post about these alternative days of celebrating!
By NoraLee Jones
I love the holiday season!
There is something magical about this time of year that seems to draw out the child in all of us. The holidays are a wonderful time to reach out to family members, spend much needed time with friends and to make new relationships with neighbors and co-workers.
There are parties, vacation trips, decorations, great food and presents: so many opportunities for social gatherings and fun!
But as a Military significant other whose loved one is deployed, it can be a lonely and isolating time of year. Between usually living far from home (another state OR another country), having children and/or work, and the cost of travel these days, most military significant others tend to spend the holidays alone.
Surviving the Holidays
Surviving the holidays without your loved one is one of the toughest parts about military life. You focus all your attention on staying positive and put on a brave face but really, it’s only a matter of time before it can become too much.
As a fellow military spouse, I know exactly where you are coming from. Although not easy, I feel there are a few tried and true ways to get through the holidays on your own, and maybe even add a little magic into the season.
1. Surround Yourself with Positivity
This is probably the most important of all the tips for you today. Although it is perfectly normal to feel negative emotions, you want to make an assertive effort to surround yourself with positivity!
Find those people in your life who truly love and care for you and who support your relationship. Those individuals will be there when you need to take some time to ugly cry (and you probably will, that’s OK!), but then will also know when and how to help you move forward.
Find people who will get you out of the house, show up at your door with some chocolate and a movie, or who will take your kids for you to get some self-care accomplished! These people are your TRIBE. Hang onto them and never let go.
Stay clear of those people who will have a negative effect on your mood and emotions: Negative Nellies are not welcome! You don’t want to surround yourself with people who are not sympathetic to your situation (reminding you how it sucks to be alone) or who will roll their eyes are you in annoyance any time you mention your significant other (um, who needs that?).
In fact, those people are probably ones you should stay clear of even after the holidays.
2. Say YES over NO
Sometimes it may feel easier to just stay home and ride out the holidays. However, trust me, you don’t want to look back on your holidays and have the only memories consist of you staying home in your PJ, eating chocolate and binge-watching sad movies.
So if you get invited somewhere, then go! Go to the movies, parties, shopping, get your nails done, meet at a coffee shop. Whatever it is, set your default response to YES and go.
3. Maintain Traditions (or make some new ones!)
Do you always put the tree up on Dec 1st? Do it. Is hosting an Ugly Sweater Party your usual jam? Host away! Many times, maintaining your traditions during the holidays is an easy way to bring familiarity and comfort to a difficult situation (aka. Deployment), especially if you have children.
However, there is nothing wrong with making NEW traditions or spicing up the holidays with something new. Maybe this year you want to go caroling at a nursing home or go Black Friday shopping with a good friend instead of just shopping online. DO it!
Take some time to write down and really think about what you want to do this holiday season. This will not only keep you organized but give you something to look forward to.
3. Include your Spouse
Although difficult, communication with your service member will help keep the holidays more cheery and bright. Take photos, send emails, schedule a Skype/Facetime call (maybe open and give gifts to mom during that time), send care packages and buy/wrap their gifts. No need to erase them from the holiday celebrations altogether! Plus, being able to hear your loved one’s voice/seeing their face can be just the thing to push you forward as you wait for them to come home.
Care packages are actually some of my favorite ways to include my spouse during holiday celebrations. Include photos, favorite snacks/gum, hygiene items, comfy socks, small books, crossword/sudoku puzzles, small electronics, phone cards and writing materials (stamps, envelopes, etc) or anything else you feel your SO would enjoy. One deployment, I sent two boxes. One had all the small stuff and one I stuffed a blanket I made with a print from his favorite basketball team. It is STILL a favorite blanket in this house.
4. Take Time for Self-Care
You are doing a GREAT job. You’ve said yes to each invite, you found some traditions you want to maintain and picked a new one for the year. Your care package is in the mail (early even) and your Christmas shopping is done. But have you taken time for yourself?
NoraLee is the author of MrsNavyMama.com, a military wife of 10 years and mother of three littles! On her blog, she focuses on military, marriage, and motherhood one duty station at a time, all with a dash of humor! In addition to her blog, you can follow NoraLee on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.