The Holidays are hard for so many military families (ours included) as this year one of our husbands is deployed. Knowing he will miss precious family time with our 21 month old, the joys of dealing with a pregnant wife and all of the traditions, family time and giving this time of year is supposed to bring is not easy for him or for any of us.
This time of year just seems to put a magnifying glass on all of the anxiety and loneliness military relationships face. We know so many of you are doing the Holidays alone for one reason or another OR this time of year is just hard for a myriad of other reasons. We encourage you to take it day by day, breath by breath and give yourself grace this season. This time of year is meant for joy, so we have suggested ways to help you find and keep you joy this season.
5 Ways to Find and Keep Your Joy
Maybe this sounds cliche or too easy, but there are multiple studies on how music can lift your spirits. It can also motivate you (just think about those sweaty gym classes where they are blasting upbeat or rock music). Instead of going down the rabbit hole of mindless tv watching each night (which doesn’t make things better) try turning on Pandora or Spotify or your favorite mix. You might just be inspired to do something fun, reach out to a friend, change your perspective on where things are at or just give your thoughts and emotions a chance to calm down a little. (It doesn’t have to be Christmas either!)
This is arguably the easiest time of year to find a way to reach out to someone else. There are a plethora of organizations asking for both physical and monetary donations, help in a soup kitchen, sending a care package or more. But what about those closest to you? Your neighbor? Your family? Co-workers? What if instead of just attending a party or giving a cutesy dollar gift from the Target One Spot Section (which they are cute!), you really reached out. You invited them over for dinner. You helped a single mom (or mom with a deployed husband) with their kids. You drove your elderly neighbor to the grocery store. You sat with a wife who hasn’t heard from her deployed husband in days and is beyond anxious. You left anonymous notes and treats on the doorstep of the kids down the street. You told someone how beautiful you think they really are. You took your kids somewhere they have been wanting to go just because. You sat down with your husband and asked him what he really needs from you. The deep things, the real things- serving others in order to really help them where they are at. I guarantee you once you do this, your spirits cannot help but lift. AND on the (selfish) plus side, I have no doubt they will either return the favor now or somewhere down the road.
Need more ideas? randomactsofkindness.org
Click here for ways to specifically reach out to fellow military spouses.
I feel like we hear about this more and more in life, but seem to really struggle with it. Simplifying our house and life has become another goal on the list, a hashtag or an ideal to worship that few seem to truly ascribe to. I am going to suggest it anyway, but specifically for the Holidays.
Don’t try to do it all, be it all or have it all.
A good way to do this is to prioritize what really matters to you and put it in writing. Take the time to think about what you care about deep down this season and list things that pull you closer and things that push you away from these goals. Writing it out will help you be honest and make you more likely to stay accountable. It may just feel like homework at first, but isn’t something that will make your Holidays more enjoyable, smoother, easier, worth it?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
The ultimate simplifying website has a simpliyfing christmas list of course: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/simple-christmas-links/
Enjoy. Appreciate. Relish. Revel. Bask. Look around and try to enjoy where you are at, even if that means the Charlie Brown Tree in the corner (or lack of a tree in my case).
Joy is a choice sometimes and it can be hard to choose. We have to fight for it and we understand we won’t win the battle all the time. However, we encourage you to try looking at your situation with fresh eyes or eyes that see this year is different, but it doesn't mean every year will be this hard.
Enjoy your warm house, food on the table, having someone you love so much you miss them, knowing you have a friend or family member that is a phone call away, an FRG that might just rock your socks off, a neighbor that looks out for you or maybe you scored an awesome presents during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
My husband is gone, but I am still working to see the world through my little one’s eyes this Christmas. The wonder of twinkling lights, curiosity with decorations, excitement of unopened boxes (or just boxes in general, I mean she is a toddler) and more time with momma. While we can sometimes feel the temptation to wish this time away, time is precious and we don’t know what is around the corner, so taking time to bask in the here and now is so important.
Ask for Help
This may be the hardest one of all, because hey, we are military spouses. We can do it all or most of it on own and have been for months or years. We don’t need help, just like our husbands don’t need it right? Riiiiiight. Sister, you need help! So say it. Your friend messages and asks if she can drop off a treat? Your mom asks if she can help cook or clean? Your husband asks if you want something special for Christmas? Your kid asks if you need….oh, when do kids start asking that? If someone asks, just take them up on it even if it pains you, even if you really feel like you have to offer something in return.
It’s good (and human) to admit defeat or weakness at times.
This is still something we are both learning as we are pretty independent women who have lived on our own before we married into the military and many, many times since. We can kill the spiders, do the cleaning, parent the kiddo, hang the Christmas lights, help a friend out and more, but if we need something we push it to the back burner. Asking for help doesn't make you weak, it can even mean you are even stronger and wiser of recognizing your limits and reaching out to someone who can step in. When you ask for help you let other people know you more, see you are human and allow them to offer their skills and talent to the world too- a win-win situation.
We don't suggest these ideas lightly as we know the Holidays can be a very trying and painful time for many military families. We do suggest them in hopes you know we see you right where you are at and are walking the road with you.