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The holidays are a rough time when you are in the middle of a deployment (I’m sure you haven’t heard that before!). We’ve been lucky enough to make it through two deployments without my husband, Luke, missing a holiday up until this year.
I so badly wanted to feel the Christmas spirit in the beginning of this Christmas season. I wanted to feel the joy that is evident in my children’s eyes when they see our Christmas tree light up or the snow begin falling outside or houses decorated with hundreds of lights as we drive by at night. I miss feeling that magic when I was a kid.
Luke was active duty Air Force from 2010-2016 and is now Air National Guard. Throughout all that time when he was active duty, I think we went home twice for Christmas since we lived in Illinois and our families were in Pennsylvania (12 hour drive at least). I remember FaceTiming them during their traditional Christmas dinners we would have been at if we could have gone home and getting all choked up when people started saying We miss you! Wish you were here! I felt lonely then, too, even with my husband right next to me. We both felt a loss missing yet another year with our families and our children missing another Christmas without their grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.
Military life is no joke. There are so many sacrifices that come along with it, it isn’t even funny. When you have one thing, you seem to have to give up everything else. And you don’t realize the weight of those sacrifices until you experience them, one by one by one… by one.
This year I am surrounded by family and loved ones since we’ve moved home, but again I feel a loss. One like I’ve never felt before at Christmas. I honestly can’t wait for the holiday to be over with!
I hate knowing my husband is over in the desert during Christmastime not seeing any snow, not being able to hunt (his passion!), not being able to see his boys’ faces Christmas morning when they come downstairs to presents under the tree, and not being able to be home for his youngest child’s first Christmas.
And I hate feeling guilty for being here with family and experiencing the white Christmas we’ve wanted for the past 5 years that we’ve lived in Illinois. I know many military wives/spouses are familiar with that guilt!
That darn song I’ll Be Home for Christmas, a song I never put much thought into, now inevitably puts tears in my eyes every single time I hear it!
It is SO difficult to enjoy the holidays when you’re missing the most important person in your life! I completely understand!
That’s why I’ve decided to share a few things that have truly helped me deal with that empty hole in my heart this holiday season. These things obviously come nowhere close to filling in that hole, but they have helped distract me from it at least. 🙂
- Start a new tradition! I honestly don’t even know how this has helped but it truly has made things better in terms of distracting me from the deployment! For example, I started a new tradition with our boys this year – it’s a tradition I’ve been wanting to do for a couple years but they haven’t been old enough until now. I bought and wrapped 25 Christmas books and put them under our tree. Each night after dinner, they unwrap a book and we read it as our bedtime story. Then my oldest (4) would start talking about how he can’t wait until his daddy gets home so he can read him a book. We’re even leaving one wrapped for when Luke gets home for him to read to them. The boys are SO excited about that particular book being unwrapped! 🙂
- Be sure to mail that Christmas care package in time! I shopped for Luke, wrapped his gifts, and sent his care package early last week. His packages have gotten to him usually within a week to a week and a half. I know – I’m cutting it close! But knowing he will have something to open Christmas morning from us truly does put me in the Christmas spirit! Especially since I KNOW they are gifts he will like. He is NOT easy to shop for!
- If possible, FaceTime (or Skype) with your deployed spouse Christmas morning (or whenever they’re available around that time) for you to open your gifts “together”. Luke and I have a plan to open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with him on FaceTime so he can see the boys open their gifts and so I can see him open his! And hopefully he can “sit” at the breakfast table with us as well while we eat our Christmas breakfast. Planning something like this to look forward to has made Christmas Day more exciting for me! We have to make the best out of every situation we are in. 🙂
- Wake up early in the mornings leading up to Christmas, when everything is still quiet, and sit by your Christmas tree or your nativity scene and read Scripture relevant to this time of year. Spending time with Jesus and God is probably the most important thing that has not only gotten me through this holiday season, but also this entire deployment. When you come to know God, you also come to know you are NEVER alone! What a comfort that has been to know these past few months. And your spouse is never alone, either. God is taking care of your husband while he is overseas protecting us and He is also with you every step of the way while you’re taking care of everything at home. This time of year is a beautiful celebration! My absolute favorite Christmas scripture is in Luke 2:10-14 when the angels appeared to the shepherds to tell them about baby Jesus:
Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born to you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
These things have helped me so much during this deployment and I really hope they can help you, too! I pray they can help bring you peace and joy in this beautiful time of year. There is so much to celebrate and be thankful to our Heavenly Father for! Our family, our friends, our children, and especially our spouses (whether at home sitting next to you or thousands of miles away). Deployments are only temporary. Remember: This too shall pass! So we need to stop worrying and make the most of the time we have. Our children need to see their parents make the most out of every situation. Let’s show them how it’s done! 🙂
Have a beautiful, blessed, and Merry Christmas, everyone!!