With military families finding themselves scattered across the globe, going home for the holidays isn’t always an option. AHRN.com welcomes milspouse Jessica, author of Jessica Lynn Writes, who shares her ideas for maintaining holiday cheer where ever you find yourself this year!
In my 30 years here on Earth, this is only the second time in my life that I won’t be home for the holidays. The first time was because my family and I were stationed overseas in Italy, and it wasn’t economical for us to fly home. This time the reason is a bit different: we now live in America, but are several states away from our hometown. By the time Christmas rolls around, I’ll be in the final month of my pregnancy, waddling around with zero desire to spend time on an airplane or juggle between which family we’re going to see next. Add a toddler into the mix, and the thought of waking up Christmas morning in a hotel room just didn’t seem appealing, so we made the decision to stay home for the holidays this year.
I’m sure we’re not the only family with the do-we-stay-or-do-we-go dilemma, so if you choose to forego the big holiday get-together and just celebrate with your own little family, here are some ideas on how you can bring that familiar holiday cheer from home into your own living room.
1. Bring Traditions Home With You
Are there certain things you always do during the holidays with your family? A post-Thanksgiving meal game of football? Do you bake cookies for your neighbors? Head to midnight mass? Or maybe each family member always opens a gift on Christmas Eve. Perhaps you all dress in matching pajamas for Christmas morning! Whatever it may be (for us it’s enjoying homemade funnel cakes for breakfast), bring that tradition to life. Get your kids in on the fun and share the history of your tradition with stories from the past. If you’re coming up short on ideas, try with something new. Now is the perfect time to start your own family traditions!
2. Pick up the Phone…or the Computer
Figure out a time that works for everyone and make a date to see everyone from back home. With FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and tons of other apps, actually seeing your family from back home is as simple as a click of a button (and having a good wi-fi connection)! In the past, we’ve held out on opening certain gifts until we can FaceTime with those who sent them. While we may not all be physically in the same room, it certainly helps spread some joy across the miles.
If you’re dealing with no wifi (oh, my!), or family members who aren’t sure about video chatting, how about just picking up the phone to say, “hello.”
You may not be the only family on the block who’s staying home for the holidays, and I bet they’re jonesing for some “family” time too. Ask around to see if anyone else is in the same boat and have a big get-together. If you know of any spouses (and their kids) going through a deployment, they’d probably love being included in something like this. Make it a potluck style party and have a white elephant gift exchange.
4. Bake Goodies
Who doesn’t like to indulge in homemade sweets during the winter months? As delicious as it is to eat cookies and fresh treats, it’s even more fun to make them with your family. Put on some aprons, turn up the Christmas jams, and get your bake on! Kids (young and old) will have a blast in the kitchen, and then they can eat their hard work later. Even better — get them involved in delivering a plate of goodies to your neighbors. ‘Tis the season for giving!
Speaking of good deeds, if you have older kids at home with you, consider helping out at a homeless shelter in the days leading up to Christmas (or Christmas itself). Volunteering can be incredibly fulfilling and help you feel connected to others, not to mention that everyone could use a little holiday cheer!
6. Take a Mini Trip
Christmas markets may be all the rage in Europe, but they’re actually starting to pop up here in America. Hop on Google and see if there are any markets near you. No markets? No problem. There may be some holiday arts and crafts festivals filled with products from local shops or handmade items. These usually have Santa Claus appearances, or at the very least are festively decorated. Not in the mood to spend more money on things? Once the sun sets, gather up the family, hop in the car, turn up the holiday tunes, and drive around to look at Christmas lights around your city!
Of course, these things will have a hard time coming close to actually being with your (extended) family for the holidays, but they’re small ways you can bring some new holiday cheer to the season.
We want to know:
How do you keep holiday traditions alive?
Meet your contributor:
Jessica is the voice behind Jessica Lynn Writes, a lifestyle blog and is currently enjoying San Diego with her husband and 2 little girls.