The holiday’s can be an especially difficult time for military families with a deployed soldier. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you ways to cope with being alone and how to creatively stay connected to your soldier during the holiday season:
1. Handwritten letters and notes – though old fashion indeed, handwritten letters and notes are still the way to go. Having been a soldier myself, nothing is more comforting than receiving letters from back home. Handwritten letters are so personal, the idea that someone (mom, dad, sister, wife, husband, aunt, uncle, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc..) took the time to sit down to write you a letter speaks volume and shows a soldier especially during the holiday’s just how much you love them.
One of the things I appreciated about letters from back home was the fact that I could read the letter over and over again when ever I wanted. Very special letters were carried around in a pocket somewhere and every chance I could, I would sneak a peak to help pick up my spirits. For my husband, I would spray my letters with his favorite perfume inside and out.
Other creative items to include in your letters could be a small lock of your hair freshly shampooed, pictures, love poems. Today’s technology allows you to include CDs with your voice on it, favorite songs shared by you both and so much more. Again, the key is to be creative and when sending letters by mail for the holiday’s, allow yourself enough time for delivery, if you want your soldier to get the letter(s) before the holiday.
2. Email – as I said earlier for me, email was not an option when my solider was deployed but for today’s deployed military it is widely used, so why not take advantage of it? There is so much to do with email, you can send photos, audio files, electronic greeting cards created with a desktop publishing software like (Microsoft Publisher).
The one key benefit of email is that once you click the send button, the email is delivered immediately in most cases, but if your soldier is in a very remote area, it can take a few hours for delivery but the idea is that your message is delivered instantly and you can typically send as many messages as you’d like whenever you just want to say something to your soldier.
When email did become an option for me, I would send so many short messages in one day, I would loose count of just how many I sent. If I just felt like telling him that I loved him, I sent it knowing that he would receive the message in minutes and of course he tried to check for messages at least once a day because he shared the computer with other soldiers who too were waiting to hear from back home.
3. Live video conferencing – many of the military bases today offer some type of video conferencing program that enables families to connect to each other live in real-time using video streaming technology. Check with your base family support center to learn if your base offers this service.
If by chance you do get to connect with your soldier live, use the time wisely: read love poems live, tell he or she just how much you miss and love them, bring the kids along to and make it a special family affair, allow everyone a chance to say something and try to leave a few extra moments for you and your soldier. You’ll be amazed at how these special moments carry you over during times when you feel alone.
4. Throw a holiday dinner – you are probably asking yourself, is this woman crazy? But, wait a minute, let me explain. Being alone during deployments is difficult all by itself but more so during the holiday’s. But if you can try with everything in you to keep the tradition of cooking during the holiday’s alive and well, you’ll be surprised at how it turns out.
Plan your meals as you normally would, share your experiences with your deployed soldier using email or get really creative and shoot a few videos of you cooking, setting the table, the kids in their environment, video the beautiful decorations, and throughout the video talk to your soldier, make them feel like they are apart even though they are deployed (you can do it).
Now, here comes more fun, invite other military spouses with deployed soldiers for the holiday dinner, pack the house out, tell them to bring the kids and a dish, and bring their gifts and make it a big Military Spouse family affair, don’t forget to shoot lots of video. Burn your videos onto dvd and offer to provide each spouse with a copy (they can each give you a dvd to burn the video on) if they want one.
Then, mail the DVD to your soldier who can them share in the celebration back home or better yet, upload your video to a free video sharing community and email your deployed soldier the link so they can watch online (www.militaryspousechannel.com
, offers this service for free exclusively to all military families).
5. Create a family blog – blogs are a growing trend in the world of instant information distribution. A family blog can be created online instantly and in most cases for free (www.blogger.com, http://wordpress.com). A blog enables your military family the ability to communicate with each other 24/7 sharing text, video, audio, photos, etc., Everyone in your family can chronicle the events taking place in their lives (spouse, children, grandma, grandpa, etc..), your blog can be totally public for the world to view or private for only the family to access.
Being alone without your soldier for the holiday doesn’t mean that you have to be lonely, with a little creativity and a great support network of family, friends, and fellow military spouses, you too can enjoy the holiday season.
How do you cope during the holiday’s, post your comments below.
Until the next time!