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Military Life: Celebrating the Holidays Alone

Ok so maybe I’m not totally alone and maybe some of you will think I am not grateful that we aren’t celebrating the holidays via Skype this year (trust me I am) but here it is Dec 26 and I’m balancing the feelings of “Mission Accomplished”, “Whew – glad that’s over” and “I survived”.

You see it’s the first year that we have had no family here for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s the first time in my life I have not celebrated the arrival of Santa with children waking us up at the crack of dawn and it’s the first time I haven’t had my own kids home with us to celebrate. And it’s the first time my husband had to work on Christmas Eve (so other NCO’s with children didn’t miss the day – he’s awesome like that 🙂 ).

For him it was a day like any other, for me I worked hard to find the spirit, and I’m not going to lie it was difficult. You see,my husband LOVES Thanksgiving, but Christmas just isn’t his thing – never has been; think Grinch and you are pretty close. (Eventually I’ll share with you how we’ve made it over 24 years together when one of us LOVES Christmas and the other well….not so much, but that’s a post for another day)! Back to my point….

The holiday’s were especially difficult because with only my husband, who just doesn’t see the magic it felt off. I’d be lying if I said he could fake it for my sake, but he doesn’t enjoy decorating the tree or the holiday candles I light, hates Christmas music and putting up lights. I don’t even think I have pic of him with Santa nor would he have ever helped with Elf on the Shelf – had the idea been around when my kids were young.

In fact the only thing he looks forward to are the many different kind of cookies I bake, the awesome meals and knowing that I’m happy; oh yeah did I mention he’d rather stay home than go ANYWHERE between Thanksgiving and Christmas? “To many people” he says.

So you can imagine how the fact that this year we couldn’t travel was challenging(a special shout out to the Army for that 😉 ) . But here we are on the other end of things and I can say we survived and all things considered even enjoyed the quiet.

Of course I missed the chaos, traditions and family, I especially missed my kids (my son recently moved and started a new job and had no time off and my daughter, grand-daughter and son-in-law will be arriving later this week to spend New Years here). But I also realized that although things were different this year it didn’t mean that they couldn’t be just as special.

I think that’s something the military life has taught me (often kicking and screaming). It’s taught me that it’s up to me to make the best of each day. It’s shown me that I am responsible for whether or not I’m happy and I need to do whatever it takes to find my own joy even when it’s feels overwhelming and hard.

I learned that sometimes that means things like the holidays aren’t the same as they’ve always been and I realize I alone have a choice. I can sit in my house and focus on how unfair and sad I am or I can create a moment that works. I choose to create a moment that works.

Of course I wish that our duty station wasn’t so far from family and friends, and I wish my kids were here, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy the blessings and magic that the season brings. In fact in the quiet I was able to do something that I normally don’t have time to do; something I will be sure to incorporate into the hustle and bustle of a “typical” holiday in the future and that is to take lots of time to reflect on the lessons that the year brought with it and focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place; The birth of Christ.

It’s as if the quiet was a gift, an unexpected gift that I didn’t even realize I needed. A gift that will help me move into the New Year with passion and purpose, and I am truly grateful.


~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at


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