As much as I love the holiday season, it also causes me a fair amount of anxiety because due to my husband's job as a commercial pilot and military officer, it usually means I'm going to be celebrating them alone with my four kids.
Even though I still feel a bit of dread each year, I'm getting a bit better about accepting our fate and figuring out ways for all of us to cope, but regardless, it's still stressful.
If have a spouse who travels or is away on the holidays, I bet these tips will help you too.
- Ditch the countdown and advent calendars: You'd think by now I would learn my lesson, but having an advent calendar when you may not be celebrating Christmas on December 25 is the worst idea possible. We started a book tradition, where we read a different holiday-themed book every day, thus eliminating the actual calendar part. This allows us to be more flexible if Santa has to come early or arrive late.
- Make an alternative plan and stick to it: The first year my husband was away for Thanksgiving, during the week prior we waffled back and forth about whether we should celebrate the day before or the day after, but never made a decision, hoping that he wouldn't get called into work. Well, of course he did and we were left scrambling. So even if you don't know for sure if your spouse will be gone, I suggest making an alternate plan, like "We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving on Wednesday this year!" and then sticking to that even if he or she happens to be off on the actual holiday.
- Alert family and friends: You don't need to send out "We're celebrating our holidays early" cards or anything like that, but I like to give family and close friends a heads up so that they know we're having our holiday on a different day than everyone else. By having them play along with our plans, it really helps the kids, who now know that we're doing something different than everyone else, have a bit of normalcy.
- Channel your disappointment: I'm embarrassed to admit that for a few years, I would be terribly disappointed when we'd have to change our holiday plans. These days, I use the energy I'd have spent feeling sorry for myself into other more productive ways, like decorating the house, picking out new recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, or making gifts, even with the kids. It's amazing how much energy you use feeling bad that you could switch around for good.
- You are the celebration: For the longest time, I was really upset when my kids weren't able to celebrate Christmas until December 27, or we had to eat Thanksgiving dinner a few days before. But now I realize that the actual day we celebrate isn't important, but rather, how we celebrate. Quite frankly, turkey and stuffing can be enjoyed on any day. And Santa can make exceptions and arrive early. It's that we're together that matters most.
How do you celebrate the holidays if you're alone with the kids?
Photo via Muffet/Flickr