For military families, the holidays separated from family is not a new experience. Before kids we would try to head home for either Christmas or Thanksgiving, but as life changed and our family grew we decided to spend the holidays away from family and at our current home. The stress of going home and trying to see as many family and friends as possible is more stressful than fun. But just because we enjoy being in our home for the holidays doesn’t mean we don’t find ways to stay connected.
Connect over video chat
I think people understand the power of video chat more than ever. While deployed I could go to the Morale and Warfare tent to use one of the computers to see my husband and parents. I tried to connect with them by phone a few times, but it quickly became more desirable to see the person I had been missing.
For years we have opened gifts with family miles apart via video chat and my boys spend lots of time “hanging out” with their grandparents. Playing hide and seek, watching shows together, and getting to talk to each other about our life.
And this year I even attend a baby shower via zoom. One I would have missed because there was no way for us to travel home for a baby shower. But instead, we all connected via zoom from across the US.
Do Board Games Together
During the pandemic, we learned to slow down and spend more time together as a family. And while our favorite pastime is watching movies. We started playing board games too. It has been fun to watch the boys grow in their comprehension and skill. And I even discovered these faith-based board games. Our favorite is both the Christmas Bingo and Traditional Bingo. And the best part you could easily mail out board games and beans to make this a virtual game to be played together with family apart.
Have a staycation
Since we are a military family, we move every couple of years and in the last two years, we have traveled the week of Christmas for a short overnight trip near where we live. With the option of Air BnBs and hotel taking extra cleaning measures to ensure your safety a getaway in or near your current location or hometown can be a lot of fun.
Explore as a family
Depending on the weather you can walk around your neighborhood to look at Christmas lights or many it is better to be warm and cozy in your car. Start a new tradition of seeing lights together. Where we currently live there is an outdoor drive-through Christmas light experience that we did last year and will likely do again. Although the walk nights have been canceled it is still a fun event to do as a family and safe.
Another outdoor activity that you can participate in is laying wreaths on the graves of those buried in military and civilian cemeteries across the country. While this year will look different than years in the past the tradition to honor those who served our country will continue on. This year’s ceremony will be held on December 19th, to find a cemetery near you head over to their website.
Whatever you do this year to celebrate the holidays this year make sure to do what you want to do. Thie holidays separated from family will seem so foreign to so many, but with these tips, I know you can make the most of it. And maybe even start some new traditions. Take time to pause and focus on the good things that you have learned from this crazy year and hope that 2021 will bring