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Supporting Military Families During the Holidays

Photograph by Getty Images

The holidays are challenging for military families—whether soldiers are home or deployed. It’s no secret that most soldiers make a pittance compared to their civilian counterparts, and the added burdens of holiday travel and celebrations add another level of stress to each festive occasion. It’s impossible to avoid travel costs without staying home, and coupons for 50 cents off your stuffing mix only go so far.

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The holidays are officially in full swing—the tree lots are full, candy canes are out and Christmas is around the corner. Military families are asked how people can help the soldiers and their families this season and we answer that the traditional route of adopt-a-soldier Christmas cards (the ones from kiddos, especially, are always appreciated and shared) and care packages full of necessities and frivolous finds are all great ideas. But here are a few ways to show a little support for the military families (and friends in general) in your life this season, too:

Offer to take a family photo. Photos are expensive—and all of us moms know how hard it is to get one that has the whole family in it, looking the right direction. Have some photography skills? (Or can you just hold the camera level?) Offer to take a few holiday card photos on a free afternoon to save the headache and expense of scheduling a photographer.

Offer to share in the child care duties on alternating weekends.

Give mom (and dad) a break. The stress of the holidays on schedules and finances is chaotic for everyone, no doubt. Offer to share in the child care duties on alternating weekends to give a friend (and yourself) a few child-free hours to get things crossed off that neverending list of things to do. Staying here this holiday season? Offer to take care of the family pet, water the plants or check the mail. These little things being taken care of can be a huge relief when a family is trying to get everything done before shipping out for a few days of forced family fun.

Share photos and memories from the past year. Sometimes, not bringing the camera (or forgetting to keep the battery charged) is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If you were able to get photos or video of the school play or another fun memory from the season, share the photos (not on Facebook, please!) with mom or dad so they can pass along to the rest of the family, or a deployed loved one.

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Split dinners. Kid's school events and winter sports can quickly take over the evenings and monopolize family dinnertime. Have a friend nearby? Alternate with joint family dinners before or after the weeknight events. A big platter of spaghetti or a casserole dish of enchiladas can feed a small army and means a little less cleanup one night a week.

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