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Military Traditions: Holiday Ideas from Sandboxx Veterans

Traditions help bring people together no matter where they are. Some military traditions can seem …


Traditions help bring people together no matter where they are. Some military traditions can seem weird to civilians, I’m still trying to figure out what some of those call signs mean, but we’re not talking about those types of traditions. We’re talking about holiday traditions that service members and Veterans carry on throughout the years with family and friends.

Our Veterans at Sandboxx shared their favorite holiday traditions that they look forward to every year, there might be something that you can introduce into your holiday season.

It’s really common for service members and even vets to be away from family on Christmas, so up until a few years ago (when we all started having kids), a group of us did Christmas dinner together. It started out as a sort of stand-in for the family we were away from, but over the years it really became more that these guys were my family too. To this day, a few of us still try to get together on Christmas or New Years, even if just for a toast to friends we’ve lost along the way. Since most of us are married and a few have kids now, we’ve done it over Facetime or Zoom over the past few years.
– Alex H., Sergeant, Marine Corps
My wife and I will serve food in the dining facility on base for those service members that didn’t go “home” for the holidays. We also have Mexican food on Christmas eve as a tradition. I’m from South Texas and she’s from Southern Arizona, we’re from miles apart and our families had the same tradition. We’ll also take food or dessert to the Security Forces members working the gates on the holiday.
– Chris M., Chief Master Sergeant, Air Force
Growing up we always had fondue on Christmas Eve, the meat and cheese courses. That is less popular in my home now (the meat part, we do love cheese!) so instead we have chocolate fondue every Christmas Eve. It’s a pretty delicious way to spend the evening.
– Maureen S., Staff Sergeant, Air Force
When I was Active Duty and would reside overseas, I would do my best to celebrate the way that country would.For example, in Germany the Christkindlmarkts were amazing outings where you can drink a warm cuppa Gluehwein and shop for Christmas trinkets. I still make Gluehwein at home during the holidays to this day.In England, we would incorporate the traditional “Christmas Crackers” for Christmas dinner. One year I even had a “Victorian” Christmas with a roast goose.In both San Antonio and Tucson, tamales are the go-to meals. The annual family/friend-oriented “Tamalada” where everyone makes batches and batches of tamales (and eats them!) is a lot of fun, and really gets you into the holiday spirit.
– Morena L., Master Sergeant, Air Force
We typically do like most American families, spending time together. One thing we do on Christmas Day before dinner is reflect and be thankful for service members that are currently deployed and not able to be with their families.
– Paul D., Sergeant Major, Marine Corps
I enjoy thinking about folks who are deployed during the holidays and try to send a care package to a deployed unit.
– Sam M., Sergeant, Marine Corps

If you don’t have a holiday military tradition, why not start one this year? It’s fun, easy and doesn’t require much effort. A family holiday tradition can help everyone get into the holiday spirit, reminds us of new reasons to be grateful and creates opportunities for reminiscing and bonding.

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