While I talk about the military a lot in this post, everything I mention can be applied to ANY situation in which you can’t make it home for the holidays. Take whatever you’d like from it.
When you’re in or married into the military, you can’t go home to your family for every holiday, every year. Boat schedules, duty days, expensive tickets, etc. – they sometimes don’t all line up perfectly to make that trip possible. While you might not be with ALL of the people you love, you’re with at least one person you love...usually, unless they’re deployed. If (s)he’s deployed this year, and you’re totally alone, GO HOME. Pay for the plane tickets and just make it happen. You won’t regret spending the extra money. I did this myself just last year, and it was totally worth it.
1 // Bring a tradition or two with you.
It’s a tradition in my family to make our pies the day before the big day. As kids, we’d always see who could get the longest apple peel. As adults, my husband and I still play this game. In his family, his Great-Grandma makes peanut butter balls, and he literally can’t live without them. Now, we not only make our own, but we also get our own batch of the real, grandma ones in the mail. When it’s all said and done, we recap these stories to our parents, and it makes for a lot of smiles and great conversation.
2 // Start a new tradition with the people around you.
One of our first traditions as a married couple was to go to the local drive-through Christmas lights festival that syncs up with the radio station. If one doesn’t exist, we drive around neighborhoods on the hunt for light displays. We get hot chocolate, cozy up, sing along and feel like kids with every Christmas light display we see. Every time we move, we literally find and follow new lights. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of our first traditions was about finding lights. We’re in the military, we ALWAYS have to find the light in the dark moments. We really don’t have a choice.
3 // Invite other transplants over.
Feeding our friends who also couldn’t make it home for the holidays is sort of our way of giving back. It's extra special when you're in the military because all of us transplants are transplants simply because we're in the military. No one should have to spend the holidays alone, especially when you're someone who gave up your normal holiday season to actively keep us all free to celebrate our holidays in the first place.
5 // Feel the magic of these moments.
The twinkling lights, the smell of cinnamon, your surprise presents…this time of year really is magical, no matter the circumstances. You just have to relax, let go of the everyday crazy and believe in the magic. It will change you for the better, if you let it. In the words of The Santa Clause’s Judy the Elf: “Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing.” One of the first things we learn as a kid is that faith in the things you can’t see is the most important and the most magical kind of faith. Somewhere along the way, one bad day makes us lose that faith and the ability to see and feel the magic (not just during this time of the year, but all year), but that magic never really goes away. It sits in our hearts patiently waiting for us to feel it again. And when we finally do, we feel more at home than we have in years.
Happy Holidays, my love.
Love, Light + Warm Cups of Chai Tea,