For many of us, the next few weeks are filled with joy, family and all the festivity in the world. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. But for others, including military families, this time of the year isn’t quite as wonderful.
Whether you’re stationed far away from family or have a loved one deployed, feeling connected during the holidays can be especially difficult as a military family. But it doesn’t have to be impossible! While there will never be a replacement for in-person connection, there are a few unique ways to stay connected during the holidays!
As a bonus, most of these ideas are very easy to implement and can be done relatively last minute!
Make use of technology
Being separated from family is a completely different beast than it was 50 years ago thanks to technology! Email, IMing and video chats can help you stay connected all year long, but especially around the holidays. It’s important to make time for grandparents too at Christmas. If they live far away, you can still call them. With the help of cordless phones for hearing impaired people, there’s no excuse to not ring grandparents who may have previously struggled to understand you over the phone. Make sure to wish all of your family a happy holiday, whether that’s in person or over the phone.
If possible, scheduling a video chat to coincide with a big moment in your holiday celebration can be a great way to have your loved one be a part of the day. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that connectivity and timing may not be a guarantee. If you have a large crowd waiting to speak to your loved one, have them keep conversations short or if the goal is to have dad watch little ones open presents on Christmas morning, maybe start with the big gifts from Santa.
A great option pre-deployment is to have your loved one record themselves reading a book so little ones can watch it regularly. United Through Reading has Story Stations around the world, but they also have an app that allows you to do all the recording right from your home!
Another fun option would be to cultivate a holiday playlist online together! When you have music playing on Christmas morning or during a holiday party and a new song comes on, you can take comfort in knowing that your loved one chose it just for you!
I so firmly believe in letter writing’s power to connect people over great distance. Sometimes it’s hard to express yourself on a short, static-filled phone call, especially when you often get stuck chatting about repetitive daily events. Writing a letter gives you more time to think about what you want to say and may allow you to be a bit more open with your feelings.
If you aren’t normally a letter writer, consider making an exception for the holidays! The tangible feeling of holding the letter can really help people feel connected.
Do things together
I know what you’re thinking: how can we do things together when we’re apart? I won’t lie to you, it’s definitely MUCH harder to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just have to get a bit more creative!
You could read a book or watch a movie “with” your loved one, by sending them a copy in a care package or electronically. Reading or watching and then discussing it together would help you break out of having the same conversation over and over again.
If physical activity is more your speed, you can set up an activity bet with your loved one. Whether it’s running the same number of miles each day, going for a PR with your weight-training or drinking more water, doing the challenge “with” your loved one can be extra motivating!
A great way to help a child and loved one do things together is Kidvelope! I was so excited when Kidvelope reached out to share their product with me because it really is a great way to connect children and loved ones no matter where they’re located. Each Kidvelope box comes with hands-on activities and opportunities for back & forth mail, online interactions and phone calls to help complete the box’s mission. Learn more about Kidvelope here.
Kidvelope sent me the Space Rescue mission box to check out for myself and I was blown away at the number of fun activities and cool props (the glow-in-the-dark slime message is something I’ll have to keep away from my husband!) they provide to keep children engaged. The added online communication component really makes it a great gift for a military kid. I love the idea of making the Kidvelope activity a special thing between the child and the deployed parent or faraway grandparent. It can be a really nice way to keep them connected!
If you’re interested in trying Kidvelope for yourself, make sure to use code THANKYOU at checkout for 25% off your order!
Staying connected when apart can be a challenge, but it can be especially important to overcome that challenge during the holidays! Luckily there are a few unique ways to make connecting during the holidays extra special.
Need care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.