In about a week, families all over the country will begin gathering. Turkeys will be pulled out of the freezer, menus will be planned, final shopping for the Thanksgiving holiday will commence. And some of you will sit at home, with family hundreds or thousands of miles away and your spouse halfway around the world.
I’ve been there.
I felt alone. It was easy to be depressed. Seeing all the holiday decorations in stores and on homes made me feel worse.
And I was good at piling on the guilt during the holiday deployments too.
Sometimes I would tell myself that some families only get together out of obligation and have a miserable day. But that never helped because I would think, “At least they have someone who will knock on their door.” No one was going to knock on mine.
Sometimes I wished time would fast forward to when my Airman would be home again, and then my toddler and preschooler would run by and I’d have to remind myself that I didn’t want to miss a moment of their little lives.
Sometimes I chided myself to create my own family traditions with my kids to include an abundance of food in celebration of God’s goodness. And then I’d remember that I didn’t have money to waste on a bunch of food that couldn’t possibly be eaten by an infant, three-year old, five-year old, and me.
Then I’d think we’d go out into the community, serving those less fortunate. But what could I possibly do with an infant, a three-year old, and a five-year old in tow?
Guilt. Shame. Loneliness. The enemy of my soul was very good at making me feel useless and ineffective.
My mind was completely taken up with me.
Never once did I think about the military wives all around me whose husbands were also deployed or out in the field. I was so caught up in my own disappointments that sometimes I didn’t even consider ways I could brighten the holiday for my own husband who was missing more of the season in his location than I was in mine. At least I was home with our kids.
Yes, the holidays are a tough time of year for many, including the military families that will be celebrating the end of the year with their loved one far away. But that doesn’t mean the holiday season must be lonely. Or depressing. Or guilt-ridden.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all God’s provided — including that husband you love and miss dearly. Christmas is a time to celebrate God who loved us enough to send Jesus and a Savior who loved us enough to come. So toss aside the guilt and determine to have a holiday season worthy of the life God called you to live.
What can you do to brighten your holiday season?