By Rheanna Christine, Military spouse

During my life as a military wife, there has been many a holiday that I wasn’t able to go “home.” And I’m confident in saying that is true for a lot of military families. It’s a struggle for me especially since everything I feel about the holidays is steeped in tradition. It’s comforting doing the same things I did as a child. The warmth and comfort those things provide for me are powerful.

When you are across the country, or even the world, from your family during the holidays, how do you make the most out of that time? We pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and make a family around us. We find others who, like us, aren’t near “home”. But what can you do when that doesn’t quite fill the void?

For me, it is simply carrying on the traditions of my life and my husbands’ with our children. The comfort in providing that same experience for them can take away a lot of the bittersweet feelings I have over the holidays. Building your own traditions is a wonderful thing.

Tech to the Rescue!

I’m also thankful that we live in such a modern and tech-savvy time! I remember calling long-distance to my grandparents, aunts, and uncles on holidays. Now, we just pick up our cell phones and call without typically having to pay an arm and a leg. One year, we put the phone on speaker and just “hung out” with each other for awhile. Pulling up Skype or Facetime is also one of the neatest leaps in technology we’ve made since my husband joined the military. I remember when he was in tech school, he set up a landline and we had to rely on that. Now, he can be deployed halfway around the world, and I can see his face! So, using that same technology and making it work for the holidays is an easy way to feel closer to those far away. Pull up that Facetime when it’s time to unwrap the gifts and feel like you are in the same room!

Send a Little Love!

Another way to make the holidays fun when you can’t be together is to go all out on the care packages. Typically we might think of care packages for our deployed military member or a college student who is away, but pull out that know-how for your family on Christmas! Decorate the box, include an ornament from your tree and swap them out with each other so that a part of you is with them and vice-versa.

Sometimes I plan my holiday meal with my mom on the phone. We talk about what we’re making and what we’re watching while we cook. It feels as if we are together even if when we are not. The little steps you can take during these special times of year are really what make a holiday special. It’s almost never the biggest present or the flashiest light display. It’s with your family and friends, whether you’re actually together or doing what you can to feel like you are.

Rheanna Christine is a  freelance blogger and has been featured in Military Spouse Magazine, USA Today, and National Guard and Reserve Magazine. She is co-founder of SpouseTalks, an interactive forum targeted to all branches of the Guard and Reserves. She and her high school sweetheart have been living this military life for over fifteen years. Visit her blog at www.cammostylelove.com.

Rheanna Christine