There’s something so very special about this time of year.
There’s combat-boot footprints of mud in our kitchen. Random winter military clothing is piled in seemingly every corner of the house. Faded and mismatched green socks are hung by the chimney with care. MRE’s are roasting on an open fire.
Quite picturesque, yes? Ok. Maybe not exactly.
But there IS something special about the holiday season, especially for military spouses. And, given my propensity for goofy analogies (like blogs I’ve written here, here, and here), I couldn’t let the holidays pass me by this year without adding to the collection of milspouse metaphors.
So now, without further ado, here’s five ways being a military spouse is like the holiday season.
ONE: It’s full of anticipation.
I’m an anticipation kind of gal. Sometimes looking forward to an experience or event is even more fun than the actual experience or event. It’s been like this for as long as I remember. Like when I was in the 8th grade and I was elected Student Council Rep for the class, I literally lost sleep the night before fall homecoming because I got to get out of class all day to help decorate. (Decades later, you couldn’t pay me to decorate for an event like that.)
I don’t remember the actual homecoming experience, but I remember the time leading up to it.
The same applies for Christmas. Christmas Day is great—but the anticipation is the best part for me. Ditto for my milspouse life events. Sometimes the excitement of a very-much-wanted PCS makes my heart pitter patter…and don’t get me started on the final few moments when I see my soldier walk off the airfield from a deployment.
TWO: It involves surprises.
Most (operative word: most) holiday surprises are usually good ones. The special gift from that special someone. A tender moment with the kids on Christmas morning. There are a lot of awesome surprises with the military spouse journey too. Meeting your new BFF “accidentally” while browsing the produce section at the commissary. Managing to not get lost as we familiarize ourselves with a new military base.
Of course, we also have those not-so-fun surprises. We catch the dog licking the Christmas ham on the already-set table. Someone drops a very fragile box and the gift shatters into a million pieces. Our spouse calls us to let us know that the deployment has been moved up. We finally get orders to a new duty station…but it was one on the bottom of our list.
THREE: It can be bittersweet.
The holiday season can most certainly be bittersweet. We rejoice with the people around us, but it’s hard not to be bummed out for the empty chair at the table, whether that is because family is just too far away to visit, or duty calls and takes our spouse to a foreign land. It’s a unique blend of tender and touching, coupled with a bit of heartache.
FOUR: There can be some level of stress involved.
I know, I know, you are probably laughing out loud at this one and saying, “Duh. Not news to me!” The stress of all the social events, planning, travel, and #AllTheThings of the holidays rival the potential stress of, well, the social events, planning, travel, and #AllTheThings of military spouse life. But, even with all the stress, despite all of the chaos…
FIVE: In the end, it’s all worth it.
That moment, when your kiddo squeals with joy at the “big” present under the tree, or the tears that spring into your eyes as you sing “Happy Birthday” then cut the Jesus birthday cake on Christmas Day. The hug from a stranger when you bless them with donuts and coffee at the park “just because it’s Christmas,” or the moment when you make a donation to a local charity.
It’s the moments when your spouse scoops you up in his arms after months of only seeing his face through a computer screen, or that first homecoming kiss. It’s the store clerk who gives you a military discount and thanks YOU, as a spouse, for your service. It’s when you overhear your kids telling the neighbors that their daddy is a “hero” because he takes care of America as a soldier for his job.
Every tear, every uncertainty, every muddy footprint, every broken present, every MRE-roasting-over-an-open-fire joke. It’s ALL worth it.