It seems to me that military families have a lot more traditions of various types than other families I know. Or, rather, more personalized traditions. I think a good part of that is the fact that we are a part of institutions that use traditions as both foundation and the 100 MPH Tape that holds everything together.
I think another facet of this is superstition. I don't know about everyone else, but I approach OCD levels in some of my superstitions (and may I just say that I think superstitions are silly and don't help anything? Knock on wood). I may have been the only person on Facebook this last week who didn't change my profile picture to a cartoon to demonstrate against child abuse. It's not that I think child abuse is awesome, but my Facebook picture is always one of my husband and myself, and as long as I have that picture up everything will be okay. So, I donated to a local homeless shelter for families instead of changing my profile picture.
And finally, traditions just help us cope. It's a step towards the end, if that makes any sense; like those construction paper Christmas chains where you tear off a link each night.
Air Force Guy is gone a lot, aside from deployments. He returned home from his last deployment at the end of August, and two weeks after that had another brief overseas trip. He's had other trips in the meantime, and this week starts a whirlwind that will have him gone and sliding into home with hours to spare before Christmas.
It's our normal, it's really always been this way.
And the first thing we do when AFG leaves is have tuna casserole for dinner.
You see, AFG HATES fish. He hates even the smell, and tuna sandwiches are verboten while he is in the metro area. He will even sniff out a lunch and spend the evening feeling nauseous and cranky if someone decides to get their Chicken of the Sea on. We have to wait until he is gone to indulge ourselves in the culinary delights of recession, and always the first night is tuna casserole.
It helps us all switch our brains into the right operating mode. For me, it means that it is single parent time. For my kids, it means that they have to be more self-sufficient - there's only one parent and family is literally thousands of miles away. There are some things (like dusting - I'll own it), that just don't fall on the critical list, and we all understand.
Tuna casserole is our physical reminder that we're operating differently. And somehow, it's worked really well for us so far.