2014 Military Special Needs Network Holiday Guide Winter 2014 - Page 19

"I’ll be home for Christmas

You can plan on me.

Please have snow and mistletoe

And Presents around the Tree…

Christmas Eve will find me

Where the love light gleams

I’ll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams."

The winter holidays have always been presented with the notion of family gathering to bring good tidings and good health to one another, whether it be around a Christmas tree, a Menorah, a Kwanzaa Kinara, or a Yule Log, the warmth of family and friends is always around you. But for some of us, we are spending our Holiday season without our loved ones.

Most of us seasoned military spouses tend to get used to the aspect of celebrating far away from our families with a deployed spouse. As we wade through the Department stores’ Holiday Cheer or standing in that long line of parents hoping to get that perfect picture with Santa, without the meltdowns, there is a sense of sadness. We watch all the season revelry of families doing things together, even it is a little stressed, most of us are doing this by ourselves. It can be a bit daunting. Especially if this is your first holiday without your spouse.

The Holidays have this way have building up emotions. Doesn’t matter if your spouse is here or not. Thanks to the stress of wanting everything to be perfect, for you both you and your children. But you also want to make sure that your spouse knows you are thinking about them during the holiday season. The pressure of getting a holiday care package out can trigger emotions. I can’t tell you how many times I shed a tear, standing in line at the post office, just looking at the holiday sticker laden package I was sending to an FPO address. What helped me out in those times, were the kind people who, may have not totally understood my sense of sadness, but knew this was a difficult time, so they comforted me.

When I look back at all the holidays that I have done without my spouse, I think about the things that helped me get through it all. Yes, I did have the emotional rollercoaster of the season, but there little things that got me though that. I have always be fortunate to have family around me. They have travelled far and wide and across a globe just to make sure that we had family to help us celebrate. I know that not everyone has that. Family doesn’t have to your immediate family. Family is such a board definition of what love is. If you are in an area, where you are too far away from your immediate family, but you have a good, solid circle of friends around you, make sure that you stay connected with them. And if there is a lot of you that have deployed spouses, get together and celebrate. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Sometimes just getting together with friends can help give you a boost. If you are alone, without a social network. Check in with your base’s Fleet Family Support or the equivalent of that. They always have activities going on around the holidays or at least they will have information of things going on around the base for both you and your children. It is also a good way to meet new people who are rowing in the same boat as you and understand the emotional aspect of Holidays. What is important is that you take care of yourself. It’s ok if you need to take a moment for yourself, to just reflect or to gather your thoughts.

Maintaining the Holiday cheer, can be a feat in its own, let alone trying to remain strong for your children. You know that you are not the only who is missing your spouse. Daddy or Mommy is also missed more during the holidays. There are been things that I have done, to help my children navigate through the holiday season. When you are getting your spouse’s holiday care package ready, let your children be part of that process. Let them add things that they think Mom or Dad might like for the holidays. Pictures drawn, ornaments made or even a handwritten letter. Let your children pick out the holiday goodies, they want to send to their parent. I have gone to the Dollar store and let my children pick out one small gift they thought their father would like. Nothing big or expensive. But it was something they had put a thought into and wanted their father to have. Just so he knew that they were thinking about him.

Communication was also the one thing that was hit or miss on the important Holidays days. Due to the fact that lines were busy or there was too much going on at the time. But whether it be a phone call or a skype visit, sometimes just hearing someone’s voice can mean the world. But if your spouse can’t phone you or skype on the important day, that doesn’t mean that you are not in their thoughts. You will hear from them when it is quiet and less busy.

I am not going to lie, juggling the holidays as one person is hard. I wish I could say it was easy. It’s not easy trying to remain strong, while battling your own raw emotions, through the carols and good tidings. During this time you need to be kind to yourself. Know that you are doing the best you can with the circumstances you are in. It’s ok to feel sad, but it is also ok if you are enjoying the holidays. I know that some spouses, including myself, often feel a little guilty that we have had a moment of joy, through all the craziness, but yet our spouse isn’t here to celebrate that. That too, is ok and it’s a natural feeling.

As for the children, make sure they know they are loved and that is too shall pass. Every holiday is not going to be like this. But also let them miss their parent. When they have moments of sadness about their parent, encourage them to talk about how they feel. Let them know that their parent also misses them too. But when they come home, think about all the memories you are going to be making. One thing we did, is we had a memory box. All the important things that happened in my children’s lives that they wanted to share with their father, they put in this box. So when he came home, they could talk about all the cool and wonderful stuff that had happened to them. Holidays were always included in that box. The toys they got or the parties they sent to. That kind of stuff.

Remember, your spouse is with you. They are in your heart with the memories you have with them. As you are with them. Looking back, it’s the songs that always got me. And “I’ll be Home for Christmas” was always the one that made me think fondly of my spouse. Not because it was a promise, we both knew that couldn’t happen, but more that he would be home when he could.

...If Only In My Dreams...

Andrea Scott-Thomason

deployed spouses, get together and celebrate. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Sometimes just getting together with friends can help give you a boost. If you are alone, without a social network. Check in with your base’s Fleet Family Support or the equivalent of that. They always have activities going on around the holidays or at least they will have information of things going on around the base for both you and your children. It is also a good way to meet new people who are rowing in the same boat as you and understand the emotional aspect of Holidays. What is important is that you take care of yourself. It’s ok if you need to take a moment for yourself, to just reflect or to gather your thoughts.

Maintaining the Holiday cheer, can be a feat in its own, let alone trying to remain strong for your children. You know that you are not the only who is missing your spouse. Daddy or Mommy is also missed more during the holidays. There are been things that I have done, to help my children navigate through the holiday season. When you are getting your spouse’s holiday care package ready, let your children be part of that process. Let them add things that they think Mom or Dad might like for the holidays. Pictures drawn, ornaments made or even a handwritten letter. Let your children pick out the holiday goodies, they want to send to their parent. I have gone to the Dollar store and let my children pick out one small gift they thought their father would like. Nothing big or expensive. But it was something they had put a thought into and wanted their father to have. Just so he knew that they were thinking about him.

Communication was also the one thing that was hit or miss on the important Holidays days. Due to the fact that lines were busy or there was too much going on at the time. But whether it be a phone call or a skype visit, sometimes just hearing someone’s voice can mean the world. But if your spouse can’t phone you or skype on the important day, that doesn’t mean that you are not in their thoughts. You will hear from them when it is quiet and less busy.

I am not going to lie, juggling the holidays as one person is hard. I wish I could say it was easy. It’s not easy trying to remain strong, while battling your own raw emotions, through the carols and good tidings. During this time you need to be kind to yourself. Know that you are doing the best you can with the circumstances you are in. It’s ok to feel sad, but it is also ok if you are enjoying the holidays. I know that some spouses, including myself, often feel a little guilty that we have had a moment of joy, through all the craziness, but yet our spouse isn’t here to celebrate that. That too, is ok and it’s a natural feeling.

As for the children, make sure they know they are loved and that is too shall pass. Every holiday is not going to be like this. But also let them miss their parent. When they have moments of sadness about their parent, encourage them to talk about how they feel. Let them know that their parent also misses them too. But when they come home, think about all the memories you are going to be making. One thing we did, is we had a memory box. All the important things that happened in my children’s lives that they wanted to share with their father, they put in this box. So when he came home, they could talk about all the cool and wonderful stuff that had happened to them. Holidays were always included in that box. The toys they got or the parties they sent to. That kind of stuff.

Remember, your spouse is with you. They are in your heart with the memories you have with them. As you are with them. Looking back, it’s the songs that always got me. And “I’ll be Home for Christmas” was always the one that made me think fondly of my spouse. Not because it was a promise, we both knew that couldn’t happen, but more that he would be home when he could.