By Guest Blogger LaToya Brown (Folllow @Momflyy on Instagram)
There’s no secret how much family time is sacrificed for military families. From deployments, to missions, trainings, and weekend drills, the time commitment sometimes seems never-ending. Throughout the holiday season, military families may experience mixed emotions and face small challenges, but most of all there is a desire to display multiple expressions of love. Those expressions of love may look different for each family, and finding ways to create new traditions and rethink old ones may take a little creativity.
Luckily, with our current climate, there is greater access to technology, which has made staying connected a lot easier. Nevertheless, displaced service members and their families, may experience a range of emotions that may lead to seasonal depression, guilt, and higher levels of stress. For some families, finding ways to gather and celebrate provides the therapy needed to cope and make it through what could be a challenging time.
If you are a displaced service member or family member, consider some of these ideas:
- Record your favorite holiday story and send it or read together online. Stories have the power to bring people together, and there are many apps that allow people to read and have discussions, virtually, at the same time.
- Write your family member(s) a letter describing a favorite holiday memory you share. Think about what was most memorable or what made you smile. In addition, look at old photos or write about things you wish to hold onto.
- Send displaced service members a care package with their favorite holiday treats and memorable photos. This is a tangible way to show service members you are thinking of them. Sometimes the smallest memory of home could have a huge impact.
- Take advantage of technology and open presents together, eat dinner, or watch your favorite holiday movie at the same time. Technology has made our lives so much easier. Though we could be miles apart, we could still feel as if we are in the same room at the same time. Feeling that sense of closeness and connectedness is important during the holiday season.
If you are the friend of a displaced service member or their family, consider:
- Invite the military family over to spend the holidays with you. Holiday traditions are important to family members and children, as this is a time of reflection, gift-giving, and the time to simply love on one another. Letting them know they are loved and not alone could present some feelings of normalcy and encouragement.
- Drop of a holiday meal. This small gesture could leave a huge impact, and doing something as simple as this could take the weight off having to tackle another thing on the list.
- Send presents or care packages to the service member and/or their family. Again, this is a way to simply show you care and are thinking about the family you are connected to.
- Offer to babysit for the military family. Solo-parenting is hard, and having displaced service members puts more weight on caregivers at home. Having the extra emotional support could be incredibly helpful.
There’s really no way to understand what military families go through while having a displaced service member. The best thing you can do is check in and make sure you let them know they have a support system. Even in the midst of the chaotic season, feelings of connectedness and love are important, so consider your support a gesture of thanks for the daily sacrifices military families make for our country.
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