You think you're handling deployment or another long separation well, until you hear "I'll be home for Christmas" while you're grocery shopping, or "Celebrate Me Home" driving carpool. Or, really, insert any holiday song, during any unsuspecting situation. Even Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You" taunts the solo spouse with reminders that not even Santa can make that wish come true this year (even if it simultaneously makes you want to rip your ears off.)
The holidays are meant to be a time of togetherness; it's why they can also double as an especially difficult time during military separation. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends. Since we can't give you, our wonderful readers, a physical gift -- SpouseBuzz has five deployment gifts just for you.
5 Gifts for Handling the Holidays During Deployment
1. The Gift of Yes. It's only a matter of time before the holiday events and invites start stacking up like the sale ads touting this year's must-have items. Pageants at school, a white elephant exchange with the Family Readiness Group, that caroling cocktail party your neighbors always throw; it's just so much cheer.
Can't you just stay in bed in pajamas and watch Love Actually? Allow yourself to have some fun this season. We are giving you permission to laugh with your friends, bask in the comfort of loving family and accept some of those invitations. Being around people that care about you will remind you of just that: people care about you. You're not really alone this year.
2. The Gift of No. There is no greater recipe for ugly crying at an ugly sweater party than being overextended, exhausted and solo. The holidays bring enough stress with early mailing deadlines for overseas packages.
Don't set yourself up for failure. If the all-couples-and-you evening out is going to be too much, plan something for just the spouses on a different night. Once in a while it's okay to order pizza in your flannel pants and catch up on Netflix. To thine own self be true. Also, Netflix.
3. The Gift of Variety. Maybe this is your chance to have Christmas at your parents', since you haven't been home in years. Perhaps it's the year you meet your in-laws for New Year's Eve somewhere in the middle.
This could be your chance to do everything the same as holidays past but with a life-size cutout of your spouse in tow. Or maybe it's the time to volunteer at that shelter you've always wanted to, or adopt an angel family, or ring that Salvation Army bell in front of the grocery store with reckless abandon. This year, do the holidays however you want. It's like having the remote control all to yourself, but even more power.
4. The Gift of Traditions. Who can forget the scene in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York where the entire family (sans Kevin) is stranded in a hotel room in Miami where it's pouring? "Why do we have to go to Florida?" Kevin asked his mom. "There are no Christmas trees in Florida."
Sometimes doing something totally different is appealing to ease the pain of being without your spouse. However, keep some of your traditions. It's important for you, for your children, if you have them, and for your spouse. Make that special dinner, go look at lights, do a little decorating and at least get a pine scented candle for your house. Traditions are what keep our holidays nostalgic, familiar and warm. Don't abandon all of them because of a little geography.
5. The Gift of Perspective. This holiday might not be your favorite. It likely won't be at the top of your spouse's list either. Hopefully you'll have many, many more together to make up for the ones apart. Focus on how fortunate you are to have someone to miss so fiercely. In the end, it's another feather in the cap of things that make you stronger. And, if nothing else, turn on a little "White Christmas," close your eyes, and listen to Bing Crosby sing, "When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I fall asleep counting my blessings."
From a reminder to focus on the good to permission to choose pajamas over a party, use these gifts from SpouseBuzz to help keep your holidays a little brighter.
And remember, like the lyric says, "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams." With every sleep, and every dream, you're one day closer to homecoming. Here's to next year, friends.