Over the years, I have had many civilian friends ask me “How did you handle the holidays when Glenn was away on deployment?” I thought about it a lot and finally asked myself the question, “How DID we handle that?”
It took me right back to the emotion of those times. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it was a piece of cake because honestly it wasn’t. BUT, I had some personal choices that I had to make as the adult left behind to manage the home front.
A Happy Holiday For The Entire Detachment
Long before Thanksgiving arrived (he left on the Monday before Thanksgiving) my three girls and I came up with how we would give Dad a GREAT Christmas and make him and his military unit (or detachment) feel a little love. We got the entire detachment involved and decorated and stuffed 30 stockings so that everyone would have something to open that day. They also were given mini decorations to put out for each holiday that they would miss while deployed. We also bought and wrapped all of Dad’s gifts and stuck them in his sea bag.
Each girl also had something from Dad to open on Christmas morning that he thought they would love. If your service member is gone months before, I would suggest getting them involved by asking them to shop online or giving you a few ideas that you can buy and have ready for the kids. I remember one Christmas night when I put the girls to bed and tucked myself in. The tears certainly came, but I also was very proud of the fact that our girls would have a great Christmas morning and parts of that day were sprinkled with Dad.
Connecting With Other Military Families For Support
I believe that NO ONE understands this lifestyle fully unless they have walked in your shoes, so I always made sure to have a kid’s party with other families in the Navy. These are the people that GET IT! While family and friends back home want to be helpful, sometimes (because they just don’t know), they can say some “doozies” that will leave you in tears. A couple of perfect examples that just came to mind are – “why doesn’t Glenn just put in for leave”…..or “couldn’t he ask to fly home“…..As IF he forgot to ask. I digress…
On Thanksgiving that year all of the detachment wives and families gathered together, and some of the guys on the home front came and cooked us all dinner. It was a great day! I am a big believer in giving back so that might mean helping at the USO for their holiday meals or inviting a few single sailors over instead of them sitting in their rooms on a holiday. On Thanksgiving, we made it about “the things we were thankful for about our dad.” My girls just loved that. He was the star of the day really!
Leaving Time For You In The Season
A hugely important piece of the season is also to have a little ME time. Plan a girl’s night out! A wine and painting night with all of the spouses would be a great way as a solo spouse to unwind and do something for YOU!
Giving Back is a Great Way to Honor Your Hero
Lastly, I believe when you find someone else to serve – the sting of missing your loved one hurts a little less. I would suggest finding a family in the command or on base that may need a little extra help. Do it in honor of your loved one and explain to your kids the “pay it forward” concept. While having your loved one away during the holidays is no walk in the park, there are many ways to include them from afar so that they are still a part of things. Skype is an amazing tool that can be used to shrink those miles!
It is my hope and prayer that this holiday season is full of love and hope and that if your loved one is deployed that you will embrace the challenge and never feel too proud to reach out if you need help!!!
Navy wife of 26 years (married for 28), mother of 3 lovely grown daughters and co-founder of Hover Girl Properties
Thank you, Hover Girl Properties for sponsoring this post and sharing your experience with our readers!