Milteens are very familiar with the ache that comes from not seeing their loved ones around the holidays. It’s just something that many of us are used to, something beyond our control, you know? But, this time of year can be, and IS, very rough for military teens around the world. Therefore, I compiled a guide to my best remedies for hard holidays, from one milteen to another.
1. Remember To Take Care Of Yourself
This time of year is already hard, but it’s also a time of year that is stressful. And, during stress, sometimes we forget about ourselves and how important it is to take care of ourselves. Remember to think of your loved ones, but also yourself. My favorite forms of self-care are keeping a tidy space, doing the things I love, taking time to relax - for it is the season of studying - and so on. But just know that it’s okay to feel upset or stressed during this time. You definitely aren’t alone.
2. Reach Out To Friends and Family
Another great way to spend the holidays is to spend it around people you love! A simple Friends-Giving or a small get-together with your buddies is a perfect way to fill up your extra time. Make hot chocolate or go ice skating, and for our friends in warmer climates, have a game night or watch holiday movies. Even if it’s over the phone, don’t forget to surround yourself.
3. Talk To Them
This step sounds a little tone-deaf as not everyone is able to reach their loved ones whenever they want, but there are some great ways to let your loved one know that you’re thinking of them! Write a letter or a simple email to update them on the little things - maybe your pet did something funny, or you learned something neat in school. Or, if you can, give them a call. Remember, they miss you just as much as you miss them.
4. Welcome Distractions
During this time, the mix of deployment and holidays may be hard to navigate, especially if you are hyper-focused on a missing puzzle piece. However, I know something that really helped my first holiday without my brother was doing things we hadn’t done. Trying new things, and welcoming in those distractions - that is what helped me the most. It had nothing to do with my brother and took my mind off of his absence completely. This could be reading a new book, or starting a new project, or learning something entirely new to you… Welcoming distractions is a great way to navigate the holidays, especially when you just need that little bit of a break.
5. Try New Traditions
A Spanish Tradition on New Year's Eve is to eat twelve grapes as the clock chimes to midnight. This symbolizes the twelve months of the year, and it is a good luck tradition. The Greek believe that smashing a pomegranate on New Year's Eve brings prosperity and good luck for the year (just from experience, do this one outside, pomegranate STAINS walls.) This year, maybe do some research on new traditions you can do with your family, or maybe just by yourself! It’s fun to try new things, as well as make new traditions for this time of year. And maybe next year, invite the family member who was deployed to join you.
6. Explore New Genres
Did you know that there is a genre for people who like folk and electronica? Or even German Reggae. The skies are the limit with music. Maybe a little bit of exploration could help you find your new favorite artist? The last deployment I experienced left me with a taste for Greek dinner party music and mid-century French music. But, you could always settle for holiday music - there's no shame in Mariah or even Christmas Tree Farm. Did you know that the Goo Goo Dolls even have Christmas music? It's the perfect time to experience different songs!
7. Remember To Breathe
During this time, we can definitely lose ourselves. Remember that it is okay to be upset, and it’s okay to not be upset just the same. Don’t be afraid to explore your feelings. Don’t be afraid to know what you're feeling and when. Just, through it all, remember to be patient with yourself. So, during this time, don’t forget to take time for yourself, time to breathe every once in a while.
It’s okay to be all bah humbug around this time of year, but it’s also okay to celebrate your little heart out. This year, try to welcome in the holiday spirit. The holidays can be hard for a number of reasons, and if you ever feel out of control, rest assured that there are people who will always be there for you. And don’t forget to factor in something very important - the importance of mental health. Prioritize yourself this holiday, and know you aren’t alone.
Even if the people around you don’t understand the stress of deployment or the impact of having your loved one so far from you, the people at Bloom certainly do. Remember that you aren’t alone this holiday. Happy holidays to every Christmas celebrator, those who celebrate Hanukkah, and also those who just enjoy the snow. Happy Holidays!