Military families have their own twists on celebrating holidays. Unlike most people, we are far from our families without the opportunities to go home.
Don’t spend too much time feeling bad for us, we make the most of it!
The differences we face
If you’ve followed along with any of my military related articles, then you’re familiar with the fact that there are many differences in the military lifestyle. One of the biggest differences that military families face is the fact that vacation days, or what we refer to as leave days, are much more controlled.
Outside of emergencies, the troops are pretty much told when they are allowed to take their vacation days. Typically, those days are promised right before and after deployments, or given at random (Oh it’s the last weekend of July? Let’s have a four-day!). The random three-day weekends are wonderful, but travel is limited. When you can’t schedule your travel until the last minute you’re facing much higher prices on plane tickets. Side note- military discount tickets are often a complete joke.
Leave days are not guaranteed. Just because we are told that leave will be available during an allotted time, we can’t count on it. In most circumstances, when a large amount of time is offered for leave for a pre or post deployment vacation, those days aren’t messed with. Unfortunately, we can’t count on the state of the world! Natural disasters, health crisis, and impending wars are examples of factors that greatly effect military leave days. The current pandemic is greatly effecting leave for the troops as well as those who are supposed to be returning from deployment.
Making the most of it
Most military bases truly go out of their way to support military families during the holidays. Take the Fourth of July for an example. In Savannah we have huge concerts and fireworks shows on base to celebrate Independence Day. Most Christmases you can pick up fresh trees on base. I know I’m speaking for the majority when I say military families truly appreciate the small gestures that are made by the bases to help make celebrating holidays more special.
If you want to make the most of your situation, explore your town. See what the community is hosting for the holidays. Invite the single soldiers over for a Thanksgiving dinner. Try out a new local restaurant for New Years Eve. Make new traditions with the people around you! Celebrate however you want with whomever you please.
The upside to celebrating holidays differently
Having to be away from your relatives for the holidays has its upsides. The military lifestyle truly gives you the opportunity to sow your own seeds.
Want to watch movies all day long on Christmas instead of going to ten different peoples houses? You can do it. Want to skip out on having to painstakingly open presents one at a time at grandma’s house? That is totally fine!
Being a military family gives you the opportunity to make your own traditions. You can have a feast of different cereals for Thanksgiving if you want to. You can leave your Christmas tree up all year long if that is your thing.
Most families follow the same mundane traditions year after year. You feel guilty if you mention changing the routine because someone is bound to be offended. Military families have the freedom to do whatever they want, and it opens the door to so many fun adventures.
Celebrating holidays looks different for military families, but in a way, I think we are the lucky ones. This lifestyle brings a whole new meaning to family friends.
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