Monday, December 28, 2015

SpouseLink Guest Post: Homesick for the Holidays


There is no time of year filled with more family traditions than the holiday season. Years of memories of waking up on Christmas morning and running to the tree to see what Santa has brought you tend to come to the front of your mind. You look forward to big sit-down meals with your parents and siblings by your side, a table laid out with secret recipes passed down by Grandma, Dad carving a crispy golden turkey, younger family members noisily playing with all of the treasures they’ve unwrapped, and continuing the holiday magic in the New Year.
So what are you to do when you’re stationed in another city, state or country, and not close enough to home to experience any of it? On a daily basis, traveling to live in a faraway location may feel like an adventure, but during the holidays, it can make you long for things to be different, closer and more familiar. The trick is to not let your holiday memories keep you from enjoying all of the end-of-year winter activities you have always enjoyed. But how? Here are a few ideas that may help you keep your mind in a happy place:

1) Embrace where you are. Yes, you may be fond of your family holiday memories back home, but there’s no reason why you can’t experience or create a new personal or family tradition of your own where you are right now. Make your current home as festive as usual. Bright, twinkling lights can go a long way in lifting your mood. So can the scents of gingerbread, cinnamon sticks and sugar cookies baking in the oven… or the fresh, inviting scent of pine trees. You can also look around you to see what other traditions are happening in your area. Not only will you get a unique glimpse of the way others celebrate the holidays, you may also be inspired to incorporate those activities into your own traditions.

2) Plan out your winter days. Find out what’s going on in your area and be a part of it. Are there local tree lighting ceremonies? Fireworks displays? Caroling? Winter sports? Holiday museum tours? Theatre performances? Exercise classes? Walks in the woods? Find out and put those fun events on your calendar. Having activities to look forward to helps take your mind off of what you are not doing. It also keeps you active -- mentally, emotionally and physically. After the holidays, you can even schedule a mental-break day for yourself. A great way to start fresh in the New Year is to visit a spa in January for a massage that will alleviate the stress of the preceding one. Or, indulge in some other special activity that you and your family can look back on in the years to come.

3) Remember that everything is temporary. That is, unless you choose to make it your new normal. While you may be away from home now, there will be a day when you won’t be. You may even have friends who would love to be where you are right now, instead of “stuck” in their usual routines. So embrace the joy of the season and be part of it. It will all be over before you know it, and you don’t want to find yourself wishing you had spent your time differently. Also, don’t forget: Focusing on what you’re doing here and now will give you something to share with others in the future.

Final thought: Don’t be a stranger. You may not be at home, but you can still stay connected to everyone else who is. If you can’t be with your family for the holidays, bring them to you through apps like Skype that can make it feel like they’re just next door. Phone calls, emails, greeting cards, videos posted online, and the like can have the same effect. So when the blues start creeping in, that’s your cue to start calling, writing and posting. Focus on the fun, not the distance, and you’ll get by without a hitch.

"This post was provided by SpouseLink. SpouseLink is a free website for Military Spouses that was created to support, inform and inspire users with a variety of content–anything from pop culture to important Military information. SpouseLink.org was created by AAFMAA, a non-profit, membership association that supports the American Armed Forces community with affordable insurance and widow survivor assistance services."By Cath