The holiday season is full of emotions, both good and bad. Many of us will see in-laws, out-of-state family, children, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins… But for those of us who have family currently serving in the military, the holidays can be a sad time. We miss our heroes and wish they could come home to celebrate, even though they’re protecting America’s freedoms. Channeling that sadness into positivity, however, is the key to staying happy all the way from Thanksgiving through the new year. These tips are great for your family and will warm the heart of your servicemember overseas.
We’ve compiled 5 tips to keep the upcoming holidays happy for you and your overseas servicemember!
Tip 5: Letter Chains
Most (if not all) servicemembers love receiving mail from their families during their deployment. But sending a letter chain can help make the holidays special for your family and your servicemember. What you do is write several letters in advance but mail them on separate days. This way they all arrive in a chain on consecutive days, extending the smile on your deployed family’s face. You can write a week’s worth of letters to celebrate Thanksgiving, 12 letters for the 12 days of Christmas, 8 letters for the nights of Hanukkah… No matter which holiday you celebrate, a letter chain can help you stay connected to your servicemember.
You can even get creative and have different members of the family write letters for each day!
Tip 4: Treat Each Holiday As A Single Day.
Oftentimes holidays are celebrated over an extended period of time. Families go on trips, visit relatives, and take time off of work and school to be together. The absence of a servicemember can be particularly hard to bear during these reunions. But it’s important to enjoy this time as well. By focusing on each holiday as a specific day, it relegates the pain of a servicemember’s absence to a single day. Military.com’s handy guide for the holidays explains:
“To help you cope with deployment stress and holiday blues you have to compartmentalize instead of looking at the entire season.”
You miss them everyday, but it’s important to celebrate their place in your life instead of spending all of your time fretting their absence.
Tip 3: Assembling The Ultimate Care Package
Sometimes the best way to let someone you miss them is to send them a token of your affection. For some military families, missing their servicemember is unavoidable and focusing on a care package can channel that negative energy into a positive experience. You can send them something special you’ve bought for them, like their favorite Girl Scout Cookies; or something nostalgic that you already have in the house, like a stuffed animal. Or you can create the ultimate care package using this helpful guide.
Whatever you do, sending your love overseas can be a meaningful experience to both you and your servicemember.
Tip 2: A Smart Use Of Smartphones
Many cellphones are now equipped with cameras that record both pictures and video. While you are spending time with your family you can create something special for your servicemember using this technology. Go around to each family member and record them saying something to the deployed. Whether it’s a favorite memory with them or simply the words, “we miss you,” it will surely be an amazing treat for them. Videos can be sent to a servicemember’s military email address. If they are in an area without Internet access, you can print them out camera-phone pictures too, with the family holding up personalized signs.
By sending videos or pictures, missing your servicemember can become something fun and involve the whole family!
Tip 1: Get Out Of The House
Being surrounded by family can be an amazing thing. They are your support group through the hard times. But with the succession of family-centric holidays, family can easily remind you of the absence of your servicemember. For one of the upcoming celebrations, consider taking a trip to disrupt your typical holiday schedule. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant —nothing that your servicemember will be disappointed to miss. Maybe you spend a night in a local hotel for Thanksgiving or drive upstate for Christmas.
Breaking your normal routine can help distract you from the absence of your servicemember as well as create fun stories to tell them in your next letter!
For those who want to help further…
Not all over us have family members who are currently deployed. You might finally have your servicemember home. You might have veterans in your family. You might even be a veteran yourself. You might not have a specific person to send a care package to overseas, but that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out to deployed troops to make their holidays special. The Veterans Site sends care packages to troops with the help of volunteers and donations. This simple, yet meaningful gesture shows our troops that we have not forgotten them and are grateful for their service to this great nation.
Follow this link to find out more about sending care packages to deployed troops.Whizzco