Military holidays…what can I say??? Sometimes we are together, sometimes we are not. Either way we are blessed to live this life and serve our Country together.
You can ask any military family across our nation and each of us has a story of a holiday celebrated apart, a birthday missed, a BIRTH missed and so much more. Historically the military member is usually the one missing out on the at-home celebrations while they are away. This year it seems the whole family is missing out in one way or another because of the COVID society we are living in. I have watched military families move across the world in this environment to a whole new country and be immediately quarantined alone, without knowing a single person in their new location. WOW!
Our transient lifestyle makes it hard enough to put down roots, rip them up and then go make friends again but this is a whole new, different challenge than we have faced before. I have watched people attend weddings via Zoom, sing Happy Birthday to loved ones via FaceTime, send Virtual Hugs and so much more.
By far the most heart-wrenching separation I have witnessed was watching a dear friend stationed and stuck in Germany with her family of 6 attend her grandmother’s funeral via Zoom. To see this amazing, strong, incredible woman who loved her grandmother DEARLY dress her 4 children in their “Sunday Best” just to sit in chairs in their living room in front of the TV to be “present” when her grandmother was laid to rest broke me all the way down.
Guys, this life is HARD sometimes and right now it is extra hard topped with a little bit of crazy. So, how do we make it better? We are a smart bunch this military family. We are kind, loyal, service oriented and down right a bunch of great people. SURELY there is a way for us to do more to be there for OUR people.
I believe the answer lies with searching our own hearts and finding a way to get outside of our own heads, our own busy schedules and be INTENTIONAL about reaching out to those around us. Sure it’s harder to connect when you can’t gather BUT that doesn’t meant that we can’t find great ways to support each other this Holiday Season and beyond. No military family should EVER EVER EVER and let me say it again EVER feel alone. If that is happening, we are failing. We are NOT failures so let’s start winning again.
This was a GREAT idea I saw on Facebook. That same great family that just attended a funeral in their living room got a call from friends they just left stateside asking what they are “missing” from the States. The answer: Gingerbread Mix! The smallest gesture of picking up some Gingerbread mix and a few other goodies packed with a Christmas card just a made a family halfway around the world feel a little closer to HOME! Way to do it RIGHT Villaflor family! You are setting an incredible example for the rest of us to follow.
Now that we have covered the fact that we are all struggling in a little different way than normal let us move on to the unfortunate more “normal” when it comes to military holidays …. the not always being together part. I wanted to share with you an idea I had before one of my husband’s 6 month deployments that worked so well and created memories that have stood the test of time.
He was leaving in November which meant he was missing Thanksgiving, our Son’s birthday, Christmas, New Years, his own birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter, our Anniversary & our Daughter’s Birthday. Yeah I know … pretty much ALL of the things!
I am a BIG holiday person and I love to celebrate right! So without him knowing initially I planned our very own “Week of Holiday’s” where we all woke up each day to a new Holiday! It started with Thanksgiving and ended with a special night of stuffing “Daddy’s Kisses” Pillows to give us all sweet dreams while he was gone. Santa Claus even jumped in on the fun and showed up, drank some milk, left some snowy footprints and some presents under the tree. We toasted in the New Year with balloons, blowers, Sparkling Grape Juice and stayed up until midnight for our own Countdown. Next up we made handmade Valentines Day Cards and cookies followed swiftly by hiding Easter Eggs the next day. We celebrated all 3 birthday’s with cake and ice cream and an Anniversary with a special date night.
This “Week of Holidays” is something we talk about frequently still after all of these years. It made it easier for my husband to leave and not feel like he was missing out on what felt like a full year of memories and celebrations. It helped us to feel the same. Nothing is ever the same when the whole family is not together BUT we chose this life and we love it. Plus, is there anything in the whole wide world better than a Military Homecoming!?! Almost worth the deployment just for that, huh?
So this year as your loved one prepares to leave for an extended period of time maybe you can put together your own pre-celebrations and make some memories that will last a lifetime just like we did! If you do, send us at MilHousing Network some pictures. We would LOVE to see your photos and memories documented. Remember, we are all in this together… even if we are apart. Happy Holidays!
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