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.
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.
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.