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Not Home for the Holidays

Not Home for the Holidays – Homefront United Network

Ask almost any military spouse and they will tell you the hardest part of this time of year is not being able to go home for the holidays. Leave is hard to come by and let’s face it, travel is very expensive around the holidays. Most of us simply cannot make it home to our families this time of year. Some of us have become jaded over the years and refuse to let that fact get us down. It’s not something you necessarily get used to, you just become guarded against it. For newer spouses, however, the holiday season can be and is a very depressing time of year.

It’s never easy being away from those you love at Christmastime. It is a highly family oriented time of year. We grow up learning that Christmas is all about family and joy and celebrating together. Then we marry into the military and all of that changes. We are forced into a world that doesn’t support the idea that families have to be together. It’s not that the military doesn’t want families together, especially at Christmas, it’s the reality of the career. There are times that our spouses just can’t be with us during the holidays, add that to already missing the rest of our family and Christmas can be downright depressing. For those of us without kids, this is even more difficult. We don’t have those tiny people to throw everything we have into making it special for them.

Photo Credit: Mandy Baker
Photo Credit: Mandy Baker

However, this reality does not have to be the ruin of your Christmas. Even if you have to force yourself, find a way to bring the magic to your home. Bring some of your favorite traditions from back home to wherever you are this year. If your family used to get together, trek out into the woods and cut a tree, then do it. Even if you have to go to a tree farm, go get your tree. If your mom used to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas baking and those smells take you back in an instant, then bake. Get her recipes from her, bring them to your home and share the outcome with your friends. Just because you are away from your biological family, doesn’t mean you are without family. Have a cocktail party with the friends you have around you. Bring that sense of family that you are all missing to yourself. If your family used drive the neighbors crazy by caroling through the neighborhood every year, ply your friends with liquor and get out there and carol. Find local events that can help bring that Christmas spirit to your soul. Christmas is universal. Wherever you go, you’ll be able to find that holiday cheer somewhere. From small towns to big cities, Christmas is all around you.

This year, instead of stewing in your own depression over what you can’t do, get out there and do. Make your own Christmas magic. Create your own traditions. Bring your family traditions to your home, but don’t be afraid to make up your own. My husband and I, over the years, have combined his family’s traditions with mine all the while making some of our own. Christmas in our house is one hundred percent our own at this point and we love it. We still miss our families this time of year, but we don’t let it get us down. We make our own magic. We enjoy the local Christmas cheer and make a new family with the friends we have at our current location. Fellow military families know what you are going through. They are all facing the same obstacles and feeling the same things you are. Reach out to them. Have a cookie swap. Each of you can make one or two of those sweets that are special to you this time of year. While sharing those, you get the fellowship of people that understand how hard it is. You may have to be willing to make the first move. Whatever you choose to do, just be sure that you are not sitting in the darkness of depression this holiday season. It may not be easy, but it can still be magical. Get out there and find your magic!

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