By the time Christmas rolls around, I will be too pregnant to travel. My family is trying to decide how to make sure I'm not alone. Both my father and brother will have to work on Christmas. My father suggested to my mother that she could come see me by herself so I'd have someone to spend Christmas with.
My mother was telling me this suggestion on the phone when she wistfully said, "But that would mean I would spend the first Christmas apart from your father in 34 years..."
And then she trailed off, because she obviously realized what she had just said to her pregnant daughter whose husband is deployed for the second year in a row.
She continued, "But I suppose if you can celebrate multiple holidays over the years without your husband, then I can manage one time without mine."
My husband and I have been married seven and a half years. We have a decent track record as far as the military goes: We've been apart for two Christmases, three Thanksgivings, three of his birthdays, three of my birthdays, two anniversaries, and at least one of everything else like Valentine's Day and 4th of July.
So for me, those dates aren't really that important. The fourth Thursday of November or the actual 14th of February are less important than being a complete family whenever you can manage it. I know many military families who have put up a Christmas tree in October or waited to take it down until February, just so the family could all be together to celebrate. We give thanks for physically and mentally healthy spouses all year round, not just in November. And Valentine's Day is any and every day when you and your spouse want it to be; our love gets rekindled several times a year, not just in February.
We make do with what we can get, and sometimes that means celebrating holidays whenever you're lucky enough to be together. Because a holiday isn't just a date on the calendar; it's a celebration of being a family.
And sometimes for military families, Christmas has to come in August.