It’s the most wonderful time of year and you’ve decided not to stay home for the holidays. Instead, you have opted to dip into the kid’s college fund for overpriced airfare to provide your family with experiences instead of things. Or, better yet, you’ve crammed everyone in the minivan to drive the 12 hours to grandma’s house because “it will be fun.” Oh, and it should also be noted that you may or may not be taking this jolly adventure with your service member because — well — deployments.
Whatever the case may be, bless you mama. This is no easy feat. It may take a Christmas miracle, but you can make Christmas work away from home!
Bring your Traditions Along
Traditions are the core of the holiday season. These are the special things that make up our Christmas memories. It’s your mom insisting that you and your siblings have matching jammies (even though you are all well into your 30s). These traditions are the things we want our kids to hold onto as they celebrate from year to year.
As military families, this could not ring truer. You are raising your children in this crazy, unpredictable lifestyle, making these traditions even more significant as you try to find things that feel like home no matter where you may be.
Incorporating our own Christmas traditions can be as simple as bringing a treasured tree ornament or personalized stockings from home. If baking is a Christmas pastime, share recipes of your favorite cookies or a staple side dish for Christmas dinner. Maybe it’s packing the family Bible so you can read the Christmas story, or that copy of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that you have seen a gazillion times!
Whatever makes Christmas feel like Christmas — bring it with you! Pass on your unique traditions with friends and family. Sometimes just the smell of sugar cookies in the kitchen on Christmas Eve is what you need to feel at home.
Keep it Simple and Go with the Flow
The holidays can already be a hectic time of year. Add traveling to the mix and the hustle and bustle of the season can be all too much. In order to keep the holiday cheer, try to keep things simple and go with the flow.
Gifts can be a big holiday stressor. Make it easy by ordering online and shipping your holiday goodies straight to your destination (and while you’re at it, check that little box to have it gift wrapped). Or better yet, do away with gifts all together! When kids are older, especially, you can often get away with this approach. Choose a charity as a family and donate instead! If gifts are part of your tradition, don’t forget to pack a few extra empty bags to lug all those new toys home!
Should you spend Christmas in a destination unfamiliar to you, now is the perfect time to explore! It’s likely that these places will do Christmas a bit differently. Talk through it with your kids so they know what to (or not to) expect, and then embrace it! Look up local festivities, try new foods, and spend time learning how the locals celebrate the holidays.
All of the Christmas commotion — the traveling, gifts, and parties — can steal your joy and make you forget what the season is really about. Plan to keep your holiday simple so you can enjoy it! If all else fails, add a little extra rum to your eggnog and relax — after all, no one likes a Scrooge!
But What About Santa?
This is it. It all comes down to Santa. How do you incorporate Santa when you aren’t home for Christmas? If you have young children who still believe and the cruel fifth grader on the bus hasn’t told them the truth yet, there are a few ways to make Santa happen this Christmas.
Write Santa a letter. Santa loves letters! Telling Santa where you are going to be for Christmas not only keeps the kids from freaking out, but it allows you to strategize possible Santa fails — Dear Santa, we will be in a hotel room without a chimney this year, please use the door.
Another great option is to have Santa visit before you leave on your Christmas travels. This alternative may also require a letter to Santa, depending on how inquisitive your child is. Having Santa come early allows you to have that special moment in the coziness of your own home. It’s also nice knowing you don’t have to worry about how you are getting that bike from Santa back home!
Whether at home or away, as long as Santa is part of the plan, you are keeping the Christmas magic alive!
Being away from home during the holidays, with kids, can be chaotic and challenging, but remembering some of these easy tips will allow you to have a merry little Christmas from anywhere!
Photo Credits: Marisa McDaniel Photography | Unsplash