Creating New Holiday Traditions for the Modern Military Family

Military families are accustomed to nontraditional holiday celebrations. A global pandemic plus social distancing, on top of living far from family, friends, and loved ones, makes this year even more of a year to remember. Here are a few ways to embrace the unconventional holidays you may face this year due to your current location, a possible deployment, and virus restrictions.

Embrace the Local Holiday Traditions and Culture

Whether it is a snowy holiday or one on a sandy beach, you could dress for the weather and make it fun. Who says holiday pajamas have to be flannel? While most might associate the holidays with cold weather, others would welcome a salty and sandy location. Think about incorporating the local climate into a new holiday tradition no matter where you are celebrating this year.

Consider looking to the local culture to find a new holiday tradition to add to your old ones. You can integrate crackers, paper crowns, and silly jokes into your holiday dinner. Perhaps this is just the year to decorate a palm tree instead of the traditional evergreen tree. The local culture where you live could be rich with fresh fruits, vegetables, and other dishes to add the finishing touch to your holiday meal.

Share Joy with Others

It is better to give than to receive. When you are far away from loved ones, volunteering to help someone less fortunate might be just the way to find more joy in the holidays. If it is allowed based on COVID-19 restrictions in your area, perhaps you could volunteer during the holidays.

If volunteering in person is not an option, there are other ways to help. Think about adopting a local family in need and providing them with a holiday meal or presents. Consider the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. Perhaps there is a local food drive, shelter, or family in need of a holiday turkey or ham.

The holidays also make for the perfect time to donate to a non-profit organization serving our military community. Look to your unit, base, or broader community to see what organizations may be in need and how you can help. Donations can come in many forms, including financial, goods and services, or simply giving of your time.

Host a Virtual Holiday Party

We have seen many virtual events take place this year. Why should the holidays be any different? There are lots of ways to host a virtual holiday party for family, friends, or children.

Some ideas might include a virtual cocktail party with holiday-themed drinks and recipe sharing. Think of a game or craft that all can do together in a virtual format. Is there a holiday movie you love to watch each year? Why not make a virtual event out of watching it so others can join in the fun with you and your family.

Incorporate a theme to make your virtual event even more exciting. You could host an online ugly sweater party, ask everyone to bring their favorite holiday treat to the virtual party, or share their favorite holiday tradition.

As military families, we always find ourselves far from family, friends, and support. This year, we may feel even more isolated due to the pandemic. As military spouses, we have to reinvent ourselves yet again this holiday season to bring joy to our families. If there has ever been a year to think outside the box and embrace new and modern holiday traditions, this is it. Find the HAPPY to put in your HOLIDAYS despite the circumstances.