Halloween to New Years.
Can you say S-T-R-E-S-S?
The holidays get me down anyway, and doing them alone is no fun at all. If it were just me, I would forego the whole winter season completely.
I do it for the kids.
October to January. It feels like so many expectations to make everything perfect, all by myself.
The kids are older now and they have a say. They like to stay home, mostly.
We don’t want potlucks with strangers. We don’t participate in events on base. We don’t know the people Dad works with at all. We stopped going to church because it was so fake.
How We Celebrate the Holidays During Deployment:
For many families and certainly for young kids, maintaining tradition is important. It offers continuity and comfort. We have certain expectations every year. Some things can be omitted or mixed up, but other things are just necessary for the holiday to feel special.
I’m an only child, so we really never did much on holidays, except with my grandmothers and they passed when I was a teenager.
My husband’s parents passed the first year we married. We’ve never celebrated holidays with family.
It was a blank slate.
We could create our own traditions!
We like to keep things simple. It keeps my stress levels down, knowing I don’t have to make everything perfect and Pinterest-worthy. We don’t do Santa. We do St. Nicholas, but they know it’s me.
For our family of six, we have several traditions.
We make and eat latkes the first night of Hanukkah, even though we’re not Jewish. We learned about Judaism in depth for homeschool church and world history and we’ve just always continued with some of the Jewish traditions.
We like to drive around, looking at Christmas lights.
We try new recipes for cookies, muffins, cakes.
We watch certain movies during the holiday season.
Shopmas, er, Thanksgiving, is kind of a worthless holiday for us. We practice gratitude year-round.
My eldest doesn’t even like turkey. Only one child likes dressing/stuffing. There’s hardly a point making a lot of food for Thanksgiving that no one likes. We don’t care about or watch football. We can have pizza on Thanksgiving if we want to. I can make a mini buffet of lots of little snacks or appetizers and we can all eat what we like. We can do what we want. We can go to the movies. It doesn’t matter. No one dictates to us! Maybe it will even become a new tradition.
My son just announced that he can’t wait for Thanksgiving! He loves turkey and my homemade pie. Well, then. Guess there will be no deviating from that tradition at this time.
We don’t do Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I’ve been finished with holiday shopping for weeks. We want a debt-free holiday.
We eat an awful lot of ham year-round so it’s just not special. I’m not making a prime rib without my husband here to enjoy it. We can have Chinese food, Italian, or anything we want for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners! There’s a scary freedom to that.
There are some things only Dad can do or do well. So without him here, I have to mix things up. We normally make chicken wings on New Year’s Eve, but I’m kinda scared of the deep fryer. We may have a living room picnic with a movie or even go out.
We may go to a movie on New Year’s Day. We usually have the traditional Southern pork, greens, and black-eyed peas for dinner.
We really like Chinese New Year and often make Asian food or go out for a special meal.
We used to travel over holidays.
We’ve been saving money and I don’t know if I want to venture out too far in snow or ice. I’m from Georgia.
My parents are 12 hours away by car.
My eldest works more when school is out.
I know lots of families move in with family or visit extensively to stave off the loneliness.
We are always trying to be frugal and debt-free, but I’m doing presents this year.
Yes, there is a bit of guilt that Dad’s not here and I probably spent more than I would have if he were home.
We may open some gifts during the nights of Hanukkah. We may open them all on Christmas Eve. I’m letting the kids decide but they can’t complain later.
Presents aren’t the most important part of the holidays, but they’re fun. The anticipation is exciting.
There’s only me, so I feel obligated to do all the things.
We spent the cold dreary days and nights together playing board games, Wii, reading, puzzles, baking.
Sometimes the togetherness gets to be a bit much and we separate to draw, read, cook, watch Netflix, or sit with the cats.
I want to rest in the presence of Jesus during Advent.
I want to model calm presence throughout the holidays in spite of the chaos and loneliness.
How do you celebrate holidays when your spouse is deployed?
You might also like 10 Gifts for a Military Family.
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Deployments are stressful for married couples.
Of course being separated – for many months or a year – can create stress on a marriage.
Deployment exacerbates any issues already existing in the relationship.
I’m independent and capable and efficient. Being a single mom for seven months isn’t that much of a hardship for me. I make most of the household decisions anyway. Some people gave me side eye when they learned about the deployment and I wasn’t sufficiently devastated as they expected me to be. I take things as they come.
I know some spouses who can’t even go to the store alone, much less successfully navigate a deployment without loads of daily help from friends and family. But, to each her own, I guess.
We actually made this deployment decision together, to strengthen our marriage, and help his career.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
It takes lots of extra work to make marriage work in the military, and especially during long separations.
How to maintain a successful marriage during deployment:
We live in an era of easy communication. The Internet makes the impossible possible. Thousands of miles and oceans apart, and we can see each other face to face and chat daily. My grandma didn’t have that luxury, only seeing my grandpa on shore duty after months at sea, raising their two boys alone.
I’m not into small talk but I have to make myself available and chatty even when I don’t feel like it. I’m an extreme introvert.
He doesn’t care about care packages. He doesn’t want much. He asks for K Cups and garlic salt. So exciting. Also, some deployment locations limit items such as pork products or comic books, and it just stresses me out that he might get in trouble if I don’t read the ingredients on a jerky packet closely enough. I’m not going to waste time, effort, and money sending things he doesn’t want or need and that he’ll just give away to others.
He’s not much of a reader. I would love to read a book together and discuss it. But he’s not into that. I do often send him screenshots of my eBooks with highlighted text.
We don’t really watch the same shows much either. We sometimes recommend movies or shows to each other, but we don’t watch anything together regularly.
He likes sugarcoating and I’m very blunt. Texts and emails seem worse without any tone or facial expressions to lighten them. We can’t really afford to get offended.
I don’t want to come at him with only problems and bad news. I have to temper everything. But it seems that everything that can will go wrong during a deployment.
We have to make more of an effort to communicate well since we’re apart for a long time.
I’m using this opportunity of 7+ months of separation pay to pay off the credit card and not acquire any more debt.
I’m not a shopper anyway, so it’s easy for me to be frugal.
The kids and I keep busy and don’t fall into retail therapy to make ourselves feel better. We shop for needs and a few wants and items for the holidays.
I seem to save lots of money on utilities, household expenses, and by staying home, making it easier to pay off the debt. So much less laundry!
I suppose temptation might be an area for many marriages to worry about.
I’m not very social and I’m very private. We’re loyal. We’re committed. It’s not really an issue.
Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.
I rarely talk to people, and certainly not men. I’m not around men. I’m not around anyone, really. We don’t go to church anymore. There aren’t any stay at home, homeschooling dads in my circles for me to be concerned. I don’t even chat online with anyone except my family members.
I’m not one to be easily tempted and I would recognize the potential danger and immediately extricate myself because I want to maintain integrity. Trust is important.
It might be harder for some people in different circumstances. It might be difficult for lonely and bored deployed members seeing certain others day in and day out, in close quarters. Maintaining professional distance is important. Don’t confuse being nice with flirting.
I don’t believe in a deployment sex pact or “what happens in deployment, stays in deployment.” That’s not healthy.
I’m not sure what some spouses are up against, but guarding hearts and minds and removing oneself from dangerous situations is imperative.
I’ve read about too many marriages breaking up after deployments due to affairs and it’s very heartbreaking.
During the first deployment, he completed a training course that he needed to make the next rank. That was convenient and easy for us.
He goes to the gym a lot. There’s not much else for him to do.
I read a lot. Like, a whole lot. And there are no interruptions for me now!
I’m constantly improving myself. I collect knowledge.
It’s easy for me to use these months alone to read more, watch more uplifting shows, write, research, educate myself, walk in nature, pray, think…and all the things that too often get interrupted on weekends and evenings.
I keep him updated on my progress and what I’m learning so he’s not totally lost and thinks I’m a different person when he returns. That’s a very real consideration. People grow, and can more easily grow apart while separated. It’s a concern I actively counter with communication.
As a stay at home, homeschooling mom, this is my job. And now I’m doing it mostly alone for many months.
The kids keep on carrying on while Dad is away.
Of course, they rely on me as their mom for almost everything anyway. It takes some pushing and prodding for them to ask Dad for anything even when he’s home, and certainly they learn he’s not available to help much or take the load off me when he’s away.
I remind him to ask them about what they’re learning, reading, doing – to keep communication open and maintain relationship while he’s away. And I have to coax everyone during reintegration.
It’s different as every stage. Babies and toddlers feel uncomfortable. Young kids are confused and scared. Tweens and teens feel diffident and abandoned.
With the time change, it’s even harder to connect sometimes with his work schedule. We have to make extra effort.
He trusts me to maintain a peaceful home for these kids – who are living for 8 months without a father, except on FaceTime. I have to make it as special and good as possible.
We’re in this together.
You might also like:
A nifty little checklist to keep marriage strong during deployment.
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St. Martin is the patron saint of beggars, drunkards, and the poor.
His feast day falls during the wine harvest in Europe, he is also the patron saint of wine growers and innkeepers.
In the agricultural calendar it marks the beginning of the natural winter, but in the economic calendar it is seen as the end of autumn. Because it comes before the penitential season of Advent, it is seen as a mini “carnivale,” with feasting and bonfires.
St. Martin’s Feast is much like the American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the earth’s bounty.
Tradition says that if it snows on the feast of St. Martin, November 11, then St. Martin came on a white horse and there will be snow on Christmas day. However, if it doesn’t snow on this day, then St. Martin came on a dark horse and it will not snow on Christmas.
Children often dress up and go around with lanterns as beggars for sweets. Sound like Halloween?
How to Celebrate Martinmas
Make a Lantern
I love these examples of homemade lanterns:
St. Martin’s Bags
Ġewż, Lewż, Qastan, Tin
Kemm inħobbu lil San Martin.
Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts, Figs
I very much love Saint Martin.
Give to the Poor
Donating clothing to the poor is in remembrance of St. Martin cutting his cloak in half for the beggar during a snowstorm.
Pray for Military
St. Martin was a Roman soldier and November 11th is Armistice Day and Veterans Day.
Martinmas is the end of fall harvest, so breads and cakes are common.
Pretzels, croissants, and horseshoe-shaped almond sweets represent St. Martin’s white horse.
Goose is often eaten in Germany.
The legend goes that whilst trying to avoid being ordained bishop, St Martin hid in a goose pen only to be betrayed by the squawking of the geese. Around Europe, many people still celebrate Martinmas with roast goose dinners.
Beef is popular in Ireland and the UK.
If the wind is in the south-west on St Martin’s Day (11th), it will stay there right through to Candlemas in February, thus ensuring a mild and snow-free winter.
“Wind north-west at Martinmas, severe winter to come.”
“If ducks do slide at Martinmas
At Christmas they will swim;
If ducks do swim at Martinmas
At Christmas they will slide”
“Thunder in November means winter will be late in coming and going”
“If the geese at Martin’s Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas.”
Ice before Martinmas,
Enough to bear a duck.
The rest of winter,
Is sure to be but muck!”
É dia de São Martinho;
comem-se castanhas, prova-se o vinho.
It is St. Martin’s Day,
we’ll eat chestnuts, we’ll taste the wine.
A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín.
Every pig gets its St Martin. The phrase is used to indicate that wrongdoers eventually get their comeuppance.
Martinmas celebrations begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:11 am on November 11).
The kids wanted to do some fun fall activities.
It’s getting harder the older they get. Most of the fun things seem to be for little kids.
We went to the homeschool day at Pot-Luck Greenhouse.
We went for the corn maze. It was ok. It was near our house, and we went through a couple times. There were activity books.
We’re already lost!
I have this same shot when Alex was 18 months old in Utah!
I love this shot of the bridge!
We took a hay ride to choose pumpkins. They were already cut, to my kids’ disappointment.
Our Other Fall Field Trips:
Black Island Farms in Utah
Sunshine Pumpkin Farm in Germany
Appel Happel in Germany
We took a homeschool field trip to Sunshine Pumpkin Farm.
We travel a lot in fall, so this was exciting for us to do something a little more normal.
The kids liked visiting the animals.
Katie loves cows.
We took a wagon tractor ride to pick our own pumpkins.
Yummy cider and cake for sale in the farm shop!
You can also visit their English and German website. They’re about 10 minutes away from Landstuhl.
There’s a milk and egg dispensary.
**The links in this blog post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, I will receive a small commission from Groovy Lab in a Box.
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