Boy oh boy do I know that feeling of dread, you know the one where you first get the deployment orders told to you by your loving service member. Anytime spent apart is hard, and then when you look at it and realize it means the entire holiday season without them…sometimes it feels like you just want to cry. Well let’s face it we all manage to do that too at some point pre-deployment especially facing a holiday season solo.
We all know it’s part of the lifestyle of being a military spouse, it comes with the title and we all eventually find ourselves missing a holiday, a birthday, or a special occasion (hello going to weddings alone) at some point during our time in the service. But what really sets military families apart is how we are able to not only get through hard times but more often than not thrive!!
If you talk to a seasoned spouse you will hear all the sad stories about missing holidays, and kids struggling with their feelings of being away from their parent. However, those stories are just there to help you feel not alone, because the longer you talk to that spouse the more you will hear the heart warming stories of how the holidays transformed into something entirely different once they were upon them. This is where the magic of being a part of something as wonderful as the military sets in. There is always someone out there that has been there and knows how to help make your year better. Old traditions are hard to let go of but, take that invite to thanksgiving dinner, or to bake Christmas Cookies when you are alone, you may find yourself with a whole new family that feels like home.
When I was going through my first deployment, I was young, I was alone in Hawaii VERY FAR from family, and very alone. But I had made a friend with a girl whose whole family was stationed in Hawaii as well. At first I thought no way am I going to this huge family celebration and being the only outsider. I had only met her parents in passing and frankly at 19 had nothing to provide. However, the second I walked in I realized they had already accepted me as their family, they set me to work peeling potatoes, and setting the table without a second thought. I felt so warm it was like being home with my own family, they joked with me and her little sister even came and told me her adorable 5 year old stories like I had lived with her my whole life. As we all sat down to dinner, this family who had been part of the military for probably 20 years at this point joined in prayer and talked about how thankful they were to host a spouse during deployment and I melted. They understood and since then have been my family.
That night I had wanted more than anything to just sit down with a turkey tv dinner watch tv, maybe call my family and be sad, but instead I decided to be brave and join a family that had reached out and I really was glad I did. Since then we have hosted many a single soldier, and deployed spouse at our table for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and although it may mean more work, it is only a small price to pay to bring joy and warmth to someone who may feel alone during the holidays. So let your military family in this holiday season, you will be surprised that we are all one big family and most of us have been there. Sometimes the hardest times is what makes our connections the strongest.