While They're Away

Holidays Without the Ones You Love

In my opinion, a large part of military life is having to adapt to change.  One of the most difficult things to adapt to is having to celebrate special holidays, occasions and events without your entire family being together.  Missing these events is a part of what military families have to cope with and while it is our reality, it isn’t easy.  It can be exhausting, lonely and just plain sad to be away from the ones you love during special times.  I have fallen into the trap of trying to be their everything and trying to do it all and it ended up not being what my kids needed or wanted at all.

As many of us head into a busy holiday season and perhaps are having to cope without having a Mom or Dad, husband or wife, sister or brother or best friend, it is important to maintain a healthy level of sanity for yourself.  Trying to do it all, pretend you aren’t sad, and running around to make everyone feel less sad than you do, will unravel even the most put together of Moms (I am definitely not in the ‘put together’ category, even on a good day!).

The bottom line is that I want to teach my kids that holidays are what you make of them (much like every day of the year).  Being sad over the holidays won’t change circumstances and it is okay to feel sad but then we have to make the most of who we have and what we have each and every day.  Easy to say, not always easy to do!

Top 10 Tips for Creating Lasting and Happy Memories

 (even when you are not with some of the people that you love the most):

  1. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Make new friends, say yes to invites or get involved with your local MFRCs holiday activities.
  2. Make your traditional, favourite holiday recipes that you enjoy making every year with your entire family.
  3. It’s a proven fact that giving makes people feel good inside, like chicken soup for the soul, so why not bake up a batch of cookies and donate it to your local church bake sale or volunteer at a shelter.
  4. Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t be connected with family and friends. Thanks to technology, knock out the worst of the blues by Facetiming or Skyping with loved ones around the world.
  5. Get out and enjoy the season with some staple winter activities like skiing, sledding and snowshoeing. Take your children or invite some co-workers along for the ride.
  6. Catch up on the local art scene and catch of showing of a theatre production or the opera. Or visit an art gallery, local holiday shows or exhibitions.
  7. Take some well deserved me-time and pamper yourself with a spa day, a mani/pedi, or an early holiday gift. Relax and melt away any anxieties or stresses.
  8. Take a break from it all and have a family nothing day. Let the dishes pile up, order in, stay in pyjamas, watch Netflix until “Continue Watching?” question comes up, etc.
  9. Prioritize what you want to do too – you don’t want to end the holidays being exhausted and run down.  Special events and holidays need to be about you having fun, relaxing and renewing yourself too.
  10. Create a new traditions and routines – sometimes breaking the routine or tradition can bring unexpected enjoyment and happiness.

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Megan Egerton

Megan Egerton is a military wife, mother of two, principal and writer. Author of While You Were Away:101 Tips for Families Experiencing Absence or Deployment

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