Written By: Tayler Cathrine
It has been hard for us to be consistent on traditions during the holidays as a military family. When people share their traditions, they always sound so great and something I would love to implement. We have had to adapt almost every year since my husband and I got married. In our first year of marriage, we were moving across the country. On our second Christmas, we were moving to another station. Our third year for Christmas, we moved across the country and experienced our first deployment a couple of weeks before Christmas. Every year has been quite similar to this for the past 12 years. Here I am writing this having my husband deployed and us expecting our 6th child around Christmas. Again, not an easy way to keep or hold traditions. I am not sure if this topic can ever seem stressful or feel like you are missing the boat somehow.
I want to tell you that it’s okay! You are doing great! I have realized that every Holiday in these different circumstances has brought some great experiences and some I genuinely miss. When we lived overseas in England, we would invite our British friends over for Thanksgiving every year. Let me tell you, that was a lot of fun to share that tradition with the Brits. I see the irony here. I cherish the uniqueness of that time, and although it can’t be a yearly tradition, it brought so much joy and memories to us all.
I will share a few traditions that we have implemented that I hope to stay around or for a while. Maybe you’ll want to implement something similar. Some are simple, and some are ways to adapt and not stress about the holidays or traditions.
THANKSGIVING & CHRISTMAS:
1) We have adapted the day we celebrate both these holidays. There have been many times we do not celebrate on the day. We do our best to celebrate when we can get together with family and friends, which typically means NOT getting together on the day.
This year I took the kids to a movie on Thanksgiving, and we celebrated the following day on Friday. We will most likely do this on Christmas as well. Our kids have come to love this, and it takes the stress off the actual day.
2) One tradition we have stuck with for quite a few years now is a Christmas Eve movie. We fill the kids stocking or Christmas box with goodies and a pair of new Christmas pajamas. We then cuddle up and watch a Christmas movie. It’s our take on opening the one gift on Christmas Eve, or I know some families open their stocking gifts on Christmas Eve. Our kids know they will be getting movie snacks and pj’s. They have yet to be disappointed.
3) Another Christmas tradition we have become a part of is the Jesse Tree Advent Calendar. I have a friend who participates in this and invites me to join. If you haven’t heard of this, here is info on it: https://www.oldsaintmary.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Jesse-Tree.pdf
I enjoy that it keeps it Christ-centered, and it brings us together as a family every night. There have been nights we miss, and we double up. Take the pressure off of yourself and do them as you can. As we put an ornament on, we also do their advent chocolate calendars. It adds a little more fun. They definitely don’t mind when we catch up on a day or two for those. More chocolate at one time!
4) We also shop for Operation Christmas Child. We have done this quite a few times throughout the years. This year we opted for one significant family gift. All the kids shop for Operation Christmas Child boxes and keep their movie night boxes for Christmas Eve. It has taken a lot of stress from trying to run to multiple stores and buy our kids ALL the things. They honestly don’t need ALL the items, and they have come to enjoy these other activities of blessing others.
I would love to hear about your traditions! Drop a comment and share some ideas that you do with your family!!