This time of year is so full of happiness and joy! It can also be a time of stress.
If you are the child of a Marine, Soldier, Airman or any other person that is active duty military, the Christmas season can hold a special kind of stress. I don't want to depress anyone, that is not the meaning of this blog, but when a person that you love is deployed for Christmas, it can be particularly hard to keep smiling.
I was very fortunate that of the 12 years that my husband was active duty, he was only deployed for 1 Christmas and that was during the first Gulf War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I expected this to happen more than once...after all, USMC stands for (You Suckers Missed Christmas!), right?
So how do military families handle it when their son, daughter, mother, father, niece and nephew are overseas for Christmas...it isn't easy! In our area, it can be even more difficult because there are military bases around - Quantico isn't that far away - but unless you live on base, it may not feel as if neighbors and friends understand how it really feels to have a loved one be deployed for Christmas.
Here are some tips to help you through the holidays:
1. Keep daily routines as much as possible. It helps when children know what to expect every day. Be consistent with your schedule. Avoid adding too many extra events that will interrupt their routine. Keep life as simple as possible.
2. Expect emotional times. There may be feelings of loneliness, crankiness and worry. Children are receptive to our emotions so do your best to keep your emotions under control - it will help the children keep their emotions under control also.
3. Don't be resentful. Being the spouse/mother or father left behind to handle everything can be stressful. This emotion may also be disguised as anger.
4. Keep your traditions. Trim the tree, make cookies, watch Christmas movies...do everything that you would do as if your child or spouse was not deployed. These traditions will make memories that will last a lifetime. Let me share a story with you:
I remember the Christmas that my husband was deployed. The children were 3, 4 and 7. there was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to put up a live tree in the living room...but this was our tradition. So, we went out and bought a 4 foot Charlie Brown Christmas tree (because that was all that we could really afford) and we used string to tie it to the window air conditioner unit to hold it up! It looked silly, but I can still remember that tree vividly in my mind, 22 years ago! It had one strain of lights on it, about 12 ornaments and we made a star out of cardboard and aluminum foil to go on top. It was crazy, fun and made us very happy.
5. Keep busy. Help a local charity or start a new hobby if you have too much time on your hands. Keep your mind thinking good thoughts and work on a project - something that you can share with your military family member through skype. There is nothing more exciting than being able to share your accomplishments with each other, even if they are thousands of miles away.
The Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg wish all of our military families, friends and neighbors a very Merry Christmas. Our prayers are with you all.
Should you need any help or just someone who understands...feel free to call me, Linda Clevenger, at 540-220-5912.