There’s a wildly popular holiday song that dates back to a 1944 Judy Garland movie called Meet Me in St. Louis. The song is called, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” In it there’s a line that says, “Through the years/We all will be together/If the fates allow/Hang a shining star/Upon the highest bough/And have yourself a merry little Christmas…”
For military families that phrase, “If the fates allow,” is something that’s very real and often difficult when PCS moves, deployments, and frequent separations due to long-distance or expensive travel keep both nuclear and extended families apart. When it comes to being or going home for the holidays, well, it’s complicated.
Whether you are planning to travel to see family and stay with them in their homes or a hotel, are hosting extended family or friends in your own home, or having a quiet holiday at home without travel or guests, here are three simple but important reminders.
Limit Your Social Media Presence
It’s easy to give in to a fear-of-missing-out (FOMO), especially during the holidays. There is literally nothing that can spoil your mood or attitude faster than looking at the “greener grass.” Seeing others post about their full and fun family get-togethers can make you sad or upset that your situation looks different. Even seeing your family all together “back home” can make you long for a place or people that just might not be a current option. By limiting the amount of time you are spending doing the social media scroll, you can help to stay present in our own realities. If this year doesn’t present itself as the ideal way you’d like to be “home for the holidays,” try to focus on what good things you have to be grateful for.
Do Something Kind or Generous for Someone Else
Just as social media and FOMO can drive your emotions in a negative direction very quickly, one anecdote to drive them in a healthy, happy way is to offer a nice or giving gesture to someone else. If you’re unable to travel back home, can you order a fun Amazon delivery of a popcorn tin, hot cocoa, and a favorite Christmas movie for the group to enjoy without you? If you’re traveling, consider picking up the drive-through coffee tab for the stranger in line behind you. If you are sticking close to home is there a friend, neighbor, or single service member who could use an invite to a holiday meal or benefit from the delivery of a homemade baked treat? Getting your mind off of your own frustrations can easily be remedied when we look beyond ourselves to the good of another.
Home is Where Your Two Feet are Planted
For so many military members and their families, it is often difficult to answer the question of “Where is home?” or “Where are you from?” Is it the place you were born? The place your parents or extended family members live? Is it your home of record? That duty station where you own a house you no longer live in? Where your kids were born? Or the house you currently sleep at each night? It could be none of those or it could be all of those! In reality, home isn’t really even a place so much as it is a state of mind. Home is where your two feet are planted and home is where you are with the people who are around you in the moment. Here’s hoping you will find all of the happiness no matter where or what “Home for the Holidays” looks like in 2020.