In my 17 years as a military wife, I have spent many a Christmas with my husband deployed. This time it’s different, however, because there’s a four-year-old little boy just discovering the wonders of the Christmas season and depending on me to channel my inner Santa enough to create a memorable family holiday experience.
A major attitude shift from Grinch to Santa
In previous, child-free years, I’d skip the whole business of putting up a Christmas tree and decorations when my husband was deployed. I thought I was going to get away with it this time too, until my son innocently asked me, “But mom, how will Santa find our house?” So now we have a tree with lights, ornaments and even real candy canes.
I also used to not enjoy getting Christmas cards, especially ones that just showed pictures of people’s children. (OK, I still find that annoying and want to see my friends in their photos too.) And I apologize now but some years I’d open up cards, skim them and put them right in the trash. Now, not only do I LOVE getting cards with family photos, I display them all on our fireplace mantle. And I even went out of my way to set up a family Christmas card this year for us and already sent them out.
Enjoying a family Christmas during a deployment
Besides cards, trees and decor, I’ve been making a big effort to get out and do ALL the Christmas things. We’ve already been to two tree lightings, a Polar Express event, a holiday nerd market, met Santa and made a gingerbread house. And that was all the first week of December! I feel like this is the first year my son is really going to remember things, and I’m going to give him plenty of fun things to remember.
Christmas with a husband deployed is something I’m used to, it was never really a big deal, just part of military wife life. But I can’t just coast through the holidays anymore now that we have a child. And I can’t be sad because only 1/2 of our family is here. To make up for that, I made sure we will be seeing a lot of family over Christmas break. My plan is to just keep busy, and dad will be home before we know it. We are eight months into it, only have a couple more months to go after Christmas!
I can’t wait until next Christmas, when we are all together again, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore this Christmas. Not this time. This time I’ve got embrace the holidays and try and remember what it’s like being a little kid just learning about the magic of the Christmas season.