Celebrating the Holidays When a Spouse Is Deployed

Written by Brigitte Straub

“It’s my party and I can cry if I want to.” This was my attitude when my husband, a Marine pilot, was deployed over the holidays. His four deployments have separated us over four Thanksgivings, four Christmases, and of course, four Valentine’s Days. It was hard, especially the first few times. Then I discovered the secret of not only coping, but of celebrating with a light heart.

The first few holidays David was deployed, I went back to Canada where my parents live so I wouldn’t have to be by myself. But that became costly and it was too much work dragging four kids on the airplane.

I remember the day I determined to finally spend Christmas at home without running away. I imagined waking up Christmas morning, with my four children tugging on my pajamas, excited to see what was under the tree. Then I felt anxious, knowing I would miss out on what I knew so many other couples were doing… drinking eggnog together, making pancakes, dancing to Christmas music.

And what about David? I knew he was having just as difficult a time. It was just different. What was he eating in Iraq during Thanksgiving? At least I was invited to a friend’s house, no matter how awkward it felt sitting at a formal dining room table with her and her husband. David was probably eating hot dogs and chips, perhaps the candy I sent him. And then he would take a baby wipe and wash his hands afterwards, seeing as there was lack of sinks and water. Of course, he would be imagining what I was doing with our kids, wanting to be home to fry a turkey and make a bon-fire, and just hang out.

As Christmas approached, he was probably looking in his mailbox wondering when a gift would come for him. What about a card? Was anybody back home thinking about him?

A new celebration

After languishing through the holidays during David’s first few deployments, it hit me: Why load the holidays with such expectations? Why not see every day as a holiday, a day of celebration?

I began to sit down with my children and make banners and gifts for their father on a daily basis. I would buy the kids gifts on non-calendar holiday days just to show them I celebrated them all the time. Sometimes, it was the simple things they longed to do… reading a book, or playing Frisbee, making crafts, even sitting down on the couch and watching a movie.

We found creative ways to celebrate, even without Daddy around. Every day became Christmas, in a way. Every day became a day of Thanks, and every day became a day of Love in our home. David would even find ways to celebrate with us by sending handmade cards to each of the kids on a regular basis. One year, I received around seven different Valentine cards in a week. I laughed. He knew.

“Choose life!”

In many ways…we can choose life…living to the fullest, seeing every day as a day of opportunity to celebrate. I have realized it is in all our perspective and how we choose to look at things. I choose life… every day! What about you?

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7 Responses to “Celebrating the Holidays When a Spouse Is Deployed”

  • Sharon says:

    to Liz– prayer–father God I pray for this mom I pray for your provision for her emotionally and financially be with her at this time while her husband to be is gone I ma praying for you I pray for Christians to come along your path to encourage you God be with you at this time. — sharon

  • Liz says:

    This is our first deployment. He has been gone since early summer this year and wont be back until midsummer sometime next year. We have a beautiful one year old boy together and a home we created for our little family. Just one small issue stands in the way….we aren’t married just yet.
    Finances and time stood in the way of us getting married and we both discussed a deployment wedding before he left and decided mutually that a deployment should not decide our marriage. He’s been married before and is divorced and this would be my first real engagement and marriage. But struggling now because I am to understand that I am technically a nobody.
    He has been moved, and no information is ever provided to me because of this legality we are missing. Support is almost non existent by the readiness group and I have no contact at the moment. It is extremely hard to feel all the heartache and not feel supported and included and informed because of this.
    I am dreading the holidays. Although we have our son together, I have a little girl and he has two children of his prior marriage we are not seeing. I am heartbroken and lost and somehow have to find the strength to tackle the holidays as a single mom of two little children while the love of my life is away with no contact, no contact and no information because I am not his wife yet.
    I’m desperate and in desperate need of another mil girlfriend out there that understands and can possibly help me through this. My experience with army wives is not a very positive one, as I am reminded how little I matter. I’m not going anywhere when it comes to him and will be right here waiting for him. I just would love a positive pick me up during this awful time. It’s like shouting at the top of my lungs and no one is listening. Help?

  • Brenda says:

    I am reading this article again, and I am finding myself refreshed and renewed this Christmas Eve and thankful that I can celebrate every day the Gift of Jesus! Today I am making the decision to choose life, and to make every day a celebration of the new life I have in Jesus! Thank you, and God bless you again for your encouraging words, Brigette!

  • Kissiwaa says:

    This is great! An encouragement not for mums only but for all who have got an emptyness in their heart for one reason or another.

  • Brenda says:

    This is tremendously encouraging and I appreciate your decision to choose life and celebrate the gifts God has given us right where we you in your current circumstances! God bless you, Brigette, and you also, amy!

  • amy says:

    this helps- this is our 1st deployment and he just left 3 days ago.

  • Anonymous says:

    Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…

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