When Your Spouse Isn’t Home For The Holidays

It’s approaching that time of the year. People are hustling and bustling around, buying Christmas gifts, attending holiday parties, checking off to-do lists, and thinking of which family members they don’t want to see. But for some of us, the ones we want to see the most, our spouses, will not be there. Not by choice, but because they are taking care of other people, whether in the military, as first responders, physicians, police, healthcare workers, etc. They will be at their place of employment rather than at home with families for the holiday.  My husband is one of those people. 

We’ve been married almost six years and for the entirety of our marriage, we have never known if my husband will or will not be able to celebrate the year’s holidays at home with us. He’s spent multiple Christmases, Thanksgivings, and other holidays working a 24 hour shift at the hospital. While this is never our first choice, now that we have kids, it’s more noticeable.  I try to remind myself, and my toddler who is getting older and noticing when daddy is at work, that when he is away from us, he is helping and taking care of other people, mainly those who are very sick. And that’s important work. And, just like we don’t want him to miss holidays, he doesn’t want it just as much. We try to make the best of it, considering the circumstances. 

There are a few things we’ve done to make the holiday a little easier when Daddy is away at work.  If he is working on Christmas, we make sure to celebrate with him before or after. Typically, we’ll open gifts, cook a big meal, and go all out for Christmas Eve and then treat Christmas Day as a little more “regular”. That means we’ve done our celebrations and no one is waiting to do it. Plus, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on as much since it’s already happened. I also make sure to take him a plate of Christmas dinner and offer to bring one for any other coworkers that may also be at the hospital working that holiday. It makes it a little easier to work through the holiday when you’re eating a home cooked meal versus cafeteria food.  Lastly, if his schedule permits, we always make time to FaceTime for a bit. I’m so thankful for the technology advances that allow us to stay connected quickly and easily, even with distance {My parents were in the Navy when I was growing up, and I explicitly remember them sitting in front of the computer for half an hour and sending emails back and forth to each other. Yes, we sent emails and not instant messages during deployment}.

If your spouse will be away from home for the holidays, what are some things you and your family do to make the separation a little easier?

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