12 December, 2011

Dealing with the holidays...

Fall and winter are my favorite times of the year. From about October to January, I am in a fit of giddiness and excitement. I absolutely love every.single.holiday from Halloween to New Years.

However, with the military, sometimes the holidays can be more difficult than fun. The Husband's first deployment was a September through April rotation.

He missed every major holiday (including our first wedding anniversary) from Halloween to Easter.

And let me tell you... I had a rough time.

His first deployment wasn't a cake walk for me by any means, but with it falling over the winter and the holiday season, it just made it that much worse.

Care.com contacted me recently to help them out with their series called Holiday Boot Camp for the Military Spouse. Having experienced both the good and bad of this time of year, this was a topic close to my heart.

Some awesome bloggers have already contributed, so I highly recommend checking it out!

I'm just going to give you all some advice about how to make it through this season as the spouse of a deployed service-member.

1: Don't wallow! It's perfectly okay to be sad. I actually think that when our spouse deploys, we need to give ourselves at least one or two days to have a pity party for ourselves. Eat junk food, hang out in your sweats, and cry. But after those few days are up, GET UP! Pull yourself up and go on with your day to day life. Get into your routine again. I made the mistake of being so wrapped up in my husband's deployment status during his first deployment that I couldn't see anything else. It was miserable. You don't want to do that. Know the line between sad and depressed and do what you can to prevent yourself from drifting over that line.

2: Celebrate! I know it can be sad to have one of the most special people in your life missing from your holiday celebrations, but you can't lock yourself in a closet for the entire duration of the deployment. You have to LIVE. And that includes going to or throwing holiday parties, decorating (if that's what you do), shopping for gifts (if you know me, you know I live for Black Friday...) and just enjoying life.

3: Have fun with care packages. The Christmas care packages I sent The Husband were some of my favorites (his birthday box during his second deployment is a close second). I sent him a little tree, some ornaments, some lights, and some reindeer antler headbands for himself and his friends. I wanted him to be able to enjoy the holidays too. And while we were apart and he was in Iraq, we both were able to have some fun.

4: Don't shut out friends and family. I was lucky enough to live only two and a half hours from my family during The Husband's first enlistment, so I was home a lot during his first deployment. That said, I still found a way to isolate myself from everyone. I was sad. I was really, really, really sad. If I could re-do that deployment, I would in a second, and I would take my friends and family up on more of their offers to spend time with them. Being alone only makes it worse. Everyone around me was trying to help, but I didn't want any of it. Don't be afraid to ask for help or for distractions, and when others reach out, don't push them away! If you're not able to go home to be with your family for the holidays, embrace your military family. The one thing I love the most about this lifestyle is that I have friends all over the world. Literally. Anywhere we go, there is someone we know. Our military family is our biggest asset. They've all been where you are at least once, they all know how we're feeling when we're sad, when we're happy, when we're excited. Don't take them for granted!

The holidays can be a fun, yet trying time, for military families. If you need some support, don't be afraid to reach out. If you're happy, don't feel guilty about it. If you love the holidays, enjoy them in spite of deployment status or distance to family. You deserve to be as happy as anyone else! So wrap some gifts, have some cookies, and enjoy the holidays!

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