I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the holiday season. I get a twinge of "the grass is always greener on the other side" each and every year. Being a military family usually means we're geographically separated from our families and in order to see them, we're the ones who are expected to do the traveling. For our family, practically speaking, it makes sense that my husband and I will pick up and travel. We don't have children and our families are located in the south and in the northeast, so it's silly to expect them to pack up the kids and presents and come to our home.
Having said that, I admit that every year, although I want to see our family, I long for a Christmas at home. Just the two of us. I want to establish our own Christmas traditions. I have visions of sleeping in on Christmas day, making a huge home-cooked breakfast and serving breakfast in bed to my husband. Lazily making our way downstairs to the lighted Christmas tree and snuggling on the sofa under a warm blanket while we watch Christmas classics on the television. Exchanging gifts beside OUR tree on Christmas Day (something we've done only once and that's because my husband returned from NTC at midnight on Christmas eve) and enjoying Christmas in our very own home.
Alas, it's not in the cards. My typical military-style holiday season starts with travel, and ends with travel. It usually goes something like this:
- Travel somewhere for Thanksgiving (All but two years).
- Put up Christmas decorations later than I would like (Ideally, it would be Thanksgiving day) because we traveled over Thanksgiving.
- Put up the decorations, which will be enjoyed less than they should be.
- Email photos to my mom (who gave me many of the decorations). She will not see my decorations in person and always asks for photos.
- Do my Christmas shopping in a frenzy because I will likely have to meet mailing deadlines.
- Decide whether to pack the gifts in an extra suitcase and wrap them when I reach my destination (because the airlines will likely unwrap them if they are wrapped) or wrap the gifts and ship them out.
- Always settle on the latter of the two choices above. Stand in line at the post office for an hour with four million of my closest friends, and spend a lot of money shipping presents out to various locations.
- Divide Christmas vacation between two cities that are 1,000 miles apart.
- Figure out how to get gifts that we've received back to our house because they won't all fit in the suitcase. Usually end up shipping them.
- Return from "vacation" exhausted.
- Have our private Christmas on New Year's Day (the day we typically return from our travels).
- Take down the Christmas decorations on January 2 and realize that all in all, we were able to enjoy them for roughly two weeks.
- Vow that one year, just one, we are going to stay home and have Christmas in our own house. Maybe we'll travel the day after Christmas?
- Know that the vow above will never be kept.
In the end, family is what's important and I know deep down that I will never, ever regret the time we spend with our families each year. I am also keenly aware of the fact that many milspouses will not have their husbands or wives home with them this year. I know firsthand what it's like to have your spouse deployed during the holiday season. Some will make it home from a deployment, others will never return. While I try to keep that in mind, it doesn't change the fact that I do long to have a relaxed Christmas in my own house one day. With my husband. And my cat.
I know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, but I do feel better now that I've had my yearly whine. In public. Big girl panties going back on now.
So that's what our Christmas looks like most years. What does yours look like?