Holiday Emotions Can Build Up

I was writing today about the Holidays approaching and since The Husband is now on Shore, I thought I’d post this one for spouses of the deployed first. I wrote this during our last deployment.

Holiday Emotions Can Build Up

Ah Christmas! I love this time of year. My tree is up at Thanksgiving and our lights are turned on the night after. The house feels warm and full with the decorations filling any space that we have through the rest of the year. It can be magical. But, that magic can fizzle when going through a deployment.

Many of us have Holiday traditions that make this time of year special.
How does that change when your husband is deployed? I try to keep
things the same, but let’s face it, you can’t. You can try and get it
pretty close, but the reality is that you are only one person. Don’t
exhaust yourself trying to do what you and your husband could
do together. Some things can be adapted. A good example would
be holiday lights. My husband normally climbs on the roof and spends
hours lining ever peak and trim with beautiful lights. Knowing that
my husband didn’t marry me for my grace, I will not be on the roof
this year; instead I will decorate everything I can reach with a
ladder. And if that seems to be too much, why not just do the bushes,
palms, or line the doors and windows? Be creative. Don’t skip this
just because your husband isn’t there. Once the lights are up, you and
your children will love every light bulb.

Another thing to keep in
mind is to ask for help. It doesn’t have to be a neighbor. It could be
a friend or visiting relative. Have them help you get the tree up or
your lights done.

Some traditions will be hard for us as wives. I know that we normally
decorate the tree together, go driving to look at Christmas lights,
and watch Christmas movies every weekend in December. These are things
I can do without my husband, but it’s going to be hard. If you have
traditions like this that you know may pull a heart string or two,
prepare yourself. Have that box of tissues handy when you find your
“First Christmas Together” ornament. The more you are aware of your
feelings, the better off you’ll be. You don’t want to hold it all in
and have a moment like I did. Here’s my story.

I was doing fine, so I thought. I knew The Husband was going to be
deployed through the holidays this year. It wasn’t a surprise. We have
done this many times before and I thought I was ready. I was so
wrong. The first holidays went smoothly. Halloween was fun. We missed
Dad, but took a ton of pictures and made the best of it. As
Thanksgiving approached, I started to feel “it”. That little nagging
feeling in the back of my heart telling me I’m missing him. This is
more than the normal, missing him. It’s “I just realized it’s
the, going to be Christmas and I’m with out him”
missing him. I took a deep
breath and kept going.

Thanksgiving Day was spent will friends whose
husbands were deployed with mine. It was wonderful. I said grace at
dinner, and it took all I had not to cry when asking to keep our
husbands safe and to bring them home to us soon. Again, I took a deep
breath and was able to hold it together. Then, this last week I had
gone to the store and on my way home a song came on. It was Elvis,
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, and I lost it. Darn Elvis and his sweet
serenades. I think I could have made it to Christmas morning if it
wasn’t for him and his hypnotic voice. It was the first time I cried
since The Husband left. Tears swelled up in my eyes and streamed down
my face. I couldn’t change the station. I listened to the whole song,
and then turned off the radio. I sat in my driveway in silence. Later that
night, I lay in bed hurting. My eyes hurt. My head hurt. My heart
hurt. I had taken some headache meds, but there is no cure for this. I
had tried to hold it in for too long.

We are going to hurt, but it’s how we handle it that is going to
make us or break us. I should have taken time to be sad. There is
nothing wrong with it. I miss my husband and there are moments where
my life is amazing and I am on top of the world, and there are moments
that bring me to my knees. We are not super heroes. And even though
there are wives that seem to have it all together, they don’t. They
have their moments like you and I do. It is not a shameful thing to
cry. That fact that you want to cry only confirms the love you have
for your deployed husband.

It is a sad thing that he is missing the holidays. Allow yourself to
feel that and let your kids know it is OK as well. Sometimes they get
caught up in the “everything is fine” movement. We forget that they
hurt too. We can only distract them so much. We cannot fill the hole
that is left by a deployed father. We can only do our best to love

I am happy to be home and I am looking forward to spending the time
with my children and my military family. But, it won’t be easy.
Christmas morning our children are going to run out of their rooms and
their faces are going to be lit up brighter than the Christmas tree.
They will tear through paper and their wishes will have come true.
But, as they bury themselves in sparkly ribbons and bright shiny
paper, I will turn to my left to make a comment and there will be no
one there. It will hurt. I will have the camera video taping
everything for Dad, and a box of tissues for me. There is no way
around it. I am grateful, I am happy, and I am proud, but it will
hurt. So, what do you do? How do you get though these moments when
your heart is literally broken? You breathe. It’s all you can do. Be
proud of your husband and yourself. And let yourself cry. He misses
you too, I promise.

Have questions, comments, or topic ideas? Email me at

2 thoughts on “Holiday Emotions Can Build Up

  1. I cried when I read this, because it painstakingly true. We have done this many times, but this deployment has been terribly emotional. Everything you wrote, was about me this go around. There were thoughts that somewhere along the line it would get easier and better. It hasn’t! I am glad that you brought open honest attention to it. I don’t think those that those who are not actively involved with the military, really can understand or process how heartbreaking this is. Thank you!

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