When your significant other is deployed thousands of miles away, the holidays can sometimes feel a little empty. Especially when you hear about friends visiting loved ones, or whenever you see that Hallmark family commercial that always makes you tear up.
It’s enough to make you want to say, “BAH-HUMBUG!”
And maybe curl up in a ball and cry.
The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” couldn’t be truer during the holidays, especially for military couples. While challenging, you can survive a holiday deployment and come out stronger as a result.
Whether this is your first holiday deployment or your tenth (yes, some people stay in that long), we’ve got some helpful tips we’ve heard other couples say help.
Ready for your mission assignment?
Here’s our survive holiday deployment action plan for you:
- Acknowledge your emotions. Deployments are tough — even for the seasoned couples — and missing your separated loved one is normal, especially during the holidays. Daily journaling or talking to a friend can be helpful in reframing your thoughts.
- Build your own military “family.” Having a lot of support during difficult times when you may feel lonely or sad can be a helpful distraction. Before your loved one ever deploys, connect with fellow military friends, spouses and other military groups. These friends will become your “tribe” to lift you up when you’re down in the dumps. Joining a Family Readiness Group (FRG) or Key Spouse Program is a great networking and friendship-building opportunity. Plus, these groups usually have free, fun holiday parties for families.
- Travel home. If funds allow, plan a trip home. You’ll be greeted by hugs, and warmth will fill your heart the moment you arrive in your hometown. Make plans to see childhood friends, and request your mom to make your favorite Christmas morning casserole. Being surrounded by loved ones can make the holidays feel a little less lonely, even with your significant other away.
- Connect with your service member. If possible, try to get on a Facebook chat, phone call or email conversation with your loved one. This day is as difficult for them as it is for you, and they long to hear about your day. Sharing funny anecdotes and cooking mishaps are a quick way to cheer them up. And, sometimes you don’t get a chance to connect. It’s okay, and you may get another chance tomorrow. It’s just one day, which happens to be a holiday. Just know they are thinking of you as much as you’re thinking of them.
- Have fun! Even if you can’t be together, try to make the best of the situation. Regularly scheduling gatherings with other military spouses can be a great distraction. Have a game night. Do a spa day with the girls. Or a football night with the guys. Host a care package packing party and add a box in for a service member who may not have family. Volunteer in the community. There’s plenty of positive ways to move time along. Before you know it, you’ll be back in your spouse’s arms and celebrating the next big holiday together.
While it may seem like a lifetime away before you’ll see your spouse, remember once the holidays are over, you’ll be that much closer to your reunion date. The good times and planning for your next holiday together are coming soon.
You’ll be through this holiday deployment before you know it.
Here at SANDBOXX, we want to thank you for your dedication to your service member. We understand it can be a tough, lonely life sometimes. Wherever you may be in your military lifestyle, we hope you can find joy and happiness this holiday season!
How do you survive the holidays when your loved one is deployed? Share your best advice below!