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The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, excitement, and love. We are greeted with visions of idyllic days spent decorating, gift shopping, and evenings with friends and family gathered around to enjoy the season. Unfortunately, for many of us, this vision can be a stark contrast with our reality. Whether it is a deployment or living great distances from our family, the holidays aren’t always merry and bright. Suddenly, what is supposed to be the best time of the year turns into a difficult and complicated couple of months?
Everywhere we turn, people are smiling, laughing, and singing. We are often greeted with homes, stores, and streets that are aglow with cheer and excitement. However, on the inside, our families are struggling and wrestling with some big emotions. Suddenly, we find ourselves experiencing the so-called best days of the year. Still, they might be some of the saddest for service members and their families because a loved one isn’t there to share in the festivities, or we are struggling to hold down the home front while our spouse is deployed.
If you are feeling blue this season and finding it difficult to celebrate, scroll through the following top reasons why we should be thankful during the holiday season.
We are surrounded by a variety of little things to be thankful for every day. Many experts feel that being grateful is the key to happiness. This is important to remember during the holidays. Look around and try to find the good every day, even if every day is not great. For example, recall favorite memories, notice the food we have to eat, the roofs over our heads, the sun in the sky, and more. Our lists can range anywhere from our favorite Netflix series, sleeping in late one morning, or our favorite song playing on the radio. Just take time to notice the blessings that surround us.
Even though we might not be able to choose family, we can choose our friends. Often, the military way of life finds us far from home and family during the holidays. However, instead of dwelling on what we can’t change, be thankful that we have new and old friends nearby. Embrace a Friendsgiving or lean on our support groups in our new homes. If we don’t have a close circle of friends, we can attend community events and reach out to groups within the area, so we are not alone during the holidays.
We have a variety of traditions that can help us feel a sense of comfort, bring us close to our families, even if miles separate us, and allow us to connect with new friends. Our favorite annual traditions help reinforce our values like freedom, faith, selflessness, and integrity. We should take the time to reinforce the values and beliefs we value. Spending time decorating the tree, lighting the Menorah’s candles, or baking Grandma’s sugar cookies helps us celebrate and showcase the things that truly matter in our lives, all while creating new memories and opportunities for reflection.
Every day is a gift; it’s our choice to make the most of it. If the holiday season is leaving us feeling down, we need to remember that we are not alone. Other people, even those who are smiling and putting on a good face are struggling, too. Whether it’s finances, health, work, or relationships, people are wrestling with similar foes and strong emotions. We can seize the day and add a little brightness to someone’s day. Make a care package, bake cookies for a neighbor, or volunteer at your favorite charity.
While we love our family traditions, we get the opportunity to make new ones. Traditions are great, but they aren’t mandatory and can sometimes cause unneeded stress, tantrums, and chaos. We might not change our circumstances, but we can embrace new changes and traditions as our stations change. This is a great way to introduce our kids to new cultures, unique family events and find ways to be thankful during the holiday season.
Finally, we need to take a moment to be thankful we have the opportunity to serve a country that allows us to celebrate holidays, no matter our faith or religion. When all else fails, remember that our service is keeping our family and friends safe. It doesn’t matter if you are enlisted or a military spouse. Our sacrifices aren’t going unnoticed. While we might be struggling to find the spirit of the season, we can take heart in the fact that our efforts are ensuring the freedom and safety of over 324 million people.
How do you remain thankful during the holiday season?