While the holidays are usually a time for family gatherings, many Navy families will be celebrating the holidays apart from loved ones due to deployment, temporary duty status, relocation or other circumstances. While Sailors may enjoy the spirit of the season through camaraderie with their shipmates and celebrations within their commands, maintaining connections with those back home is important too. With a little effort—and a little bandwidth—you can stay engaged with your loved ones this holiday season. Here are a few tips:
- Enjoy a cherished holiday movie or book “together.” Perhaps you and your children watch the same holiday movie each year, or you and a sibling or parent built memories watching a seasonal classic growing up. If you are able to locate this film on DVD locally, schedule time with your loved one(s) to watch it and chat online through social media or email. Similarly, you may choose to share a book together over the course of a few weeks and write each other emails about each section you’ve read. Activities that you can enjoy together while apart build connection and add new dimension to your communication.
- Schedule a Recipe-Share Night. This one is particularly fun if you’re in staying in a barracks with limited access to a full kitchen. Share your favorite barracks-recipe with your family and pick a night that you can both prepare that meal and enjoy it “together.” Give them a call to hear their experience preparing the meal with only the ingredients and resources you outlined for them. The simplicity of the meal is sure to be a conversation starter! Ask them to create a new barracks-friendly recipe for you to try next time.
- Use Social Media to Stay Connected. Get creative with your social media posts this season! Find an item like a toy elf or teddy bear that you can photograph in unlikely places on your ship, or start a new hashtag that you and your loved ones will use to post photos based on a selected daily theme. You could also submit a new photo to the 1 Small ACT Photo Gallery and tag a friend or family member asking them to post one and pass it on. This is a great way to engage in something meaningful during the holidays while showing support for your shipmates.
Being apart from friends and family is an opportunity to find new ways to connect and put a spin on existing traditions, but separation can be stressful. Remember, help is always available. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (option 1). In Europe, call 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118. Those stationed abroad can also utilize MCL’s online chat services.