By D’Antrese McNeil
Let’s be honest, deployments and PCS’s can suck especially during the holiday season when family time is the most wanted and needed. I have lived through two deployments without my service member and next year we will PCS smack in the middle of the holiday season. Oh, joy! I had to find ways to be creative while he was gone to help with the void. Here are a few tips I used to get by.
Less Stress is Best
I am big on holidays…….BIG! I make a grand feast, gumbo, turkey, seafood dressing, ham, greens, mac and cheese, yams, pound cake, rice, you get the picture. BUT when he’s gone, and it’s just me and we aren’t near family, I improvise. I start early and ask around my circle of friends if they have plans stay in town for the holiday. If so, we all collectively do a potluck.
Next year, since we will be deploying during the holiday, I won’t cook at all, instead I will focus on finding a decent and open restaurant to eat at and cherish the time we have together as a whole family, even if we are PCS’ing away from the home and friends we’ve known for the last 3 years.
I know this isn’t an option for some, and I can admit I’ve been blessed to go home when needed even while stationed overseas (Thanks, Space A). But sometimes it is what the doctor ordered if you CAN. Being around family can make it seem as though you are closer to your spouse this season. It is also a great distraction for kids who will miss daddy or mommy being there to open gifts and share in yearly family traditions.
When moving during the holidays, make it a quick trip home if possible. Next year depending on orders, we will try to head home if at all possible. We will also put Christmas gifts in our express shipment so that in the event we arrive during the holidays to our new duty station; our gifts arrive soon after. Do keep a couple of small gifts on hand for the trip. Trust me.
Include your deployed spouse!
Yes, your loved one is miles away, but they can still celebrate with you. Send them a care package with their favorite things; video chat if possible, and do a gift swap with them. We utilized care packages and video chatting during deployments. It kept us connected and the kids happy to spend some “time” with daddy.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Holidays are already stressful; it is important to allow your kids to express themselves and their feelings. It is hard to deal with being joyous when they are down about their parent being gone. Talking through it will help you all. Remember kids pick up on your vibes so do your best to be positive in all of this. Also, PCS’ing during the holiday season essentially means for your kids the second half of the school year brings new people and places and homes. And that’s scary at any age.
PLAN THAT MOVE
I’m a planner. I have to have a schedule, and it needs to be confirmed. When we pcs next year I will be prepared. PCSgrades.com will help me get a head start on learning about my new area, the schools, local neighborhoods etc. It can give your family comfort in knowing what exactly they are walking into.
I hope these few steps can help with your holidays during deployment or your next holiday PCS!!
Blessings, D’Antrese McNeil
Author: D’Antrese McNeil is a PCSgrades Blogger Affiliate whose husband is currently in his 8th year of naval service. She is a stay at home mom, as well as a photographer and vlogger/blogger. Her Facebook followers are always entertained as she talks about everything from military life to life in general and all that’s in between. Although her husband is currently stationed on the east coast, D’Antrese is a proud Houston, Texas Native. She enjoys Hip Hop, R and B and country music and is a big Foodie! Check her out on YouTube: D’Antrese Le’Chelle and FaceBook: D’Antrese Le’Chelle.