One of the challenges of military life is being away from friends and family around the holidays. It may be hard to adjust to this challenge and to recreate those memories and traditions that you grew up with…it’s rather difficult to go sledding, have hot chocolate, and cut down your own Christmas tree in Arizona or South Texas.
However, as with everything in military life, your attitude makes a huge difference. Those who have been around the military for a while know that one of the best things about our life is embracing the different holiday traditions and customs of the areas we currently call home. In fact, many of us keep these traditions alive after moving to our next duty stations. Check out the list of fun military holiday traditions we’ve put together below. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but might bring back some fond memories for many military families:
- Christmas tree traditions usually vary based on where you are stationed. Those in Hawaii may enjoy a unique Norfolk pine tree or, if you want a real Christmas tree in Germany, you might wait until the week of Christmas to bring it home.
- Military families around the world will often get together with friends for holiday dinners, in fact progressive dinners where each family hosts a “course,” are popular and a fun way to celebrate the holidays.
- Many times, local traditions are picked up by military families. Those who have been stationed in Germany with their children might celebrate Sankt Nikolaus’ arrival on the night of December 5 even after they’ve moved on to their new duty stations.
- Giving back to others and to our communities is important for military families. Around the holidays, you’ll often find military families participating in projects that provide for others who are less fortunate – whether that means collecting food for a food bank or clothing and toys for children – giving back is often part of military family holiday tradition.
- At some installations there are traditions where military families are encouraged to provide baked goods for single service members who are living in dorms or barracks. Additionally, some family readiness groups or family support groups will get together and go caroling in the dorms or barracks to bring holiday cheer to those single service members.
- Many military families who live close to a Veterans cemetery will volunteer for Wreaths Across America where they’ll be able to lay donated wreaths on the graves of our nation’s Veterans.
In whatever way your family will be celebrating the holidays this year, we hope this time of year brings you joy and happiness!