Several of you commented about spending the holidays alone this year and/or being unsure of what you wanted to do over the holidays because your service member is away.
Spending the holidays alone, especially if your service-member is in harms way, is never easy.
You have many options. Gather with friends, gather with people you may not know very well from your unit, neighborhood, work, school, etc (potential life long friends) go back home to visit, have family visit you, go on a vacation or just hang out at home. There are many other things you could do as well. You have to find what works for you. SpouseBUZZ authors shared some of their thoughts last year, go have a read.
Since my husband entered the Army, I have spent the majority of holidays and special event days without my husband. I have actually spent more away from him and alone, than we have spent together. That is difficult no matter how you slice it. It is difficult even if you have done it before. I also admit that my first holiday season without my husband was the most difficult of all.
But.........you can get through the holidays. You can. Yes, it will be different and likely even difficult, but YOU CAN DO IT!!
That was always part of the self talk that I would repeat to myself daily during the holiday season when my husband was away. It helped me to try and do a little positive self talk rather than concentrate too heavily on all of the negatives. I had to remind myself that the holiday season was suppose to be happy, even if I was alone. By golly - I was going to be happy.
Ok, in all honesty it did not always work out that way. I tried to be as positive and happy as possible, but sometimes I cried, sometimes I screamed, sometimes I was verbally hateful to other people due to my sadness and frustration. That is the reality. However, as I spent more holidays without my loving husband being around, the positive self talk became more important. I really started to believe the talk and I found ways to make it through without crying, screaming and being hateful to other people.
We all have to make decisions for ourselves when it comes to how we will spend the holidays without our service member. I am going to share with you some of my experiences and some of the things that I have done on various holidays when my husband was away. Maybe it will help you to feel less alone in your journey. Milspouses have a lot in common after all and this topic is one of those things.
Please comment and share your ideas and things that you have done when you were 'left behind' because your stories and ideas will help bring comfort to others going through the holidays alone this year.
I spent our first overseas holiday season alone with a newborn. My family called me on Christmas Eve from their regular holiday family affair. While I was happy to hear from them, it actually made me cry. They were thousands of miles away from me, but they were together. I was thousands of miles away from them and alone. With a new baby. We had been stationed in country long enough that I should have made some friends already, but I was simply too consumed with my pregnancy and then birth. I didn't have any friends. I did not put up a Christmas tree and I was trying to pretend that the holidays were no big deal, they would come and go and I would make it. Christmas morning though, I decided that I could not be the only person on our installation that was alone for the the holiday and I was NOT going to sit at home alone. I was going to eat holiday food, even if I didn't make it. I went to the DFAC with the baby in tow. You know what? That helped me make it through the day. There were other people that were also alone, that had no friends, that didn't want to cook and who did the same thing I did. Everyone was friendly and we all tried to have holiday spirit. We were all alone, it was a common bond on that particular day. The food wasn't homemade, but it was holiday food and I was happy to have the company. I made some friends. Many are my friends to this day.
By the next holiday season I was alone, again. With a baby. And pregnant. This year I decided that I would buy a tree, lug it up 3 stories to our apartment and decorate it. I was going to be happy over the holidays by golly. We had just moved, rather, I had just moved, to a new apartment a week before. We were pregnant again and it allowed us to move to a three bedroom apartment as opposed to the two bedroom we had been living in. I had made some friends during the previous year, several of us were alone, several of us were not. We all cooked at our own homes and gathered together at one house to celebrate Christmas. Slowly my military friends were becoming my family. They too had been alone before on holidays and they helped make my holiday better.
During the majority of the years since, I have been alone for the holidays. I started making my own happiness and traditions with my children and my friends.
Getting together at someones house became a tradition for me in the years to come. If I was alone for the holidays, I would reach out to friends and even people I did not know very well and we would all cook and gather at someones home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also never spent another Christmas, after that first one alone, without a tree and without climbing on the house to put lights up. Yes, my husband was away, but I had to do things for myself that helped me get through the season alone. Decorating was one of those things.
I did travel back home for the holiday season once. This might be exactly what you need, to surround yourself with family and friends from home.
I have since made the decision that I would rather stay in my own home for the holidays. I dislike holiday travel with children and while my family loves me and supports my husband and the military, they still don't fully understand the emotions that I have when I am alone. Especially when I am alone over the holidays. My military family does. And that helps me get through the holidays, less alone.
The biggest thing that I have to continue to remind myself of, no matter the situation I am in, is that I am not the very first military spouse. Many spouses and families have been through (at least a similar version of) whatever it is that I am going through and feeling at the moment. I have to sometimes step outside of my comfort zone (which is to generally keep to myself) and reach out to others. When I realize that I am not truly alone, that others have been down the path I am currently on and they have made it through, I then know that although my moment may be difficult, I also can make it through. As a milspouse you are never truly alone. Whether you reach out in person or through technology, reaching out and sharing will help you. We all have varying experiences and our snowflakes will differ, but we still share a common bond. We are all military spouses. If you are a milspouse that will not be alone this holiday season, consider reaching out to someone that is.
On that last note, if any of you are going to be alone for Thanksgiving, Christmas and/or New Year's this year, you might consider joining each other in the chat room over the holidays. Supporting each other and being a shoulder to lean on, even virtually, can help you feel supported and less alone.
* Check out events in your local area, some places, ie, restaurants, churches, VFWs, installation groups, etc will have events especially for military families that are apart during the holidays.
* If you want to travel or vacation over the holidays, check for special deals and military discounts with a local travel agency, MWR, or your installation travel office.
* Don't forget the holiday mailing deadlines for sending packages to your deployed service member.
* And remember that people do appreciate your sacrifice as a milspouse and are thinking of you, especially during the holidays.