Over the past month, I’ve heard from a lot of military spouses who feel… like not celebrating the holidays. Sad. Alone. Melancholy. Lonely.
You miss someone, or your family, or the traditions that you hold dear. Some of you just miss US soil. For others, it’s the first hard year away from everything familiar.
And it hurts.
When John was deployed, it was really hard. We weren’t married yet and we had never actually spent Christmas together, but I missed him all the same. I was worried. And lonely. And heartsick.
It didn’t feel like Christmas. The holidays are supposed to be a magical time of sugar-frosted everything. You’re supposed to feel lighter, happier, more joyful. And I just didn’t. It weighed on me– much like I know it weighs on many Jo, My Gosh! readers.
I remember waking up one day in December and saying to myself, “You only get to be 26 once. It’ll be gone next year. Don’t waste it.”
And so I decided to make the best of things. That’s not to say I forgot John or I wasn’t lonely. But I did make my best effort to enjoy Christmas that year. I baked cookies for my high school students, participated in Secret Santa with my coworkers, went to church, really spent time with my family… and wasn’t glued to my phone.
We’re only given so much time on this earth. It’s up to us to make those moments count.
If you feel like celebrating this holiday season, go for it. Even if you don’t, it’s okay to try. It’s okay to celebrate the holidays even when the people you love are far away from you. It’s okay to smile and laugh and listen to carols. It’s okay to enjoy yourself and to make memories.
This season, give yourself the permission to live life fully, even if not everything is perfect. There will be other holidays, other moments together, other times to spend. But this is the time you have right now. Bake cookies, try out your own traditions, write out cards, call friends.
Be brave. You can do this. And it’s going to be a great holiday season.