The holidays are coming, and I mean coming fast. I have survived Thanksgiving, and now I am planning/thinking/prepping for Christmas.
I haven’t made a single list or bought a single gift yet.
Right now, my to-do lists mostly comprise of grading schedules, posting to our online platform for the College, and getting through the end of the semester. I plan a few meals here and there, but in all honesty, I’d be fine with some type of take out or pizza delivery so I don’t have to think.
I think it is safe to say that sometimes the hustle and bustle of the holidays can bring about the holiday blues.
As a caregiver, I have learned to take things at a slower pace. I feel this is helpful so that I won’t cause any added stress or anxiety for Sam, I don’t want him flustered by any outside pressures, questions, tasks, activities, and so I try to start planning for the stress and the joys that the holidays can bring. We have had some holiday meltdowns, some holiday memories that aren’t so great, so we need to have things at a slower pace, calm, quiet days, in order to survive the holidays.
Sam becomes uncomfortable around Christmas. Not because of the meaning of Christmas, but for the new meaning and memories that surround him on Christmas since he has been deployed. He might want to withdraw, become uncommunicative, but he has learned that he is surrounded by a lot of love in our home. What seems like a challenging day is slowly becoming a better day, and time of year for us.
If you are a caregiver or supporter of a loved one with PTSD, TBI, moral injury, or invisible wounds, be sure to continue to be a support, especially as the holidays approach. These are a few things we try to practice or keep in mind around the holidays…
Keep things simple. We try to keep holiday activities as simple as possible. This weekend we have a plan to pick up our Christmas tree, a new tradition we have of choosing a real tree from Eckert’s in Belleville. This can be stressful because it can be crowded, but having a plan to pick up the tree, maybe some lunch, and head home is helpful. We want to minimize the stress.
We consider attending local activities. Carbondale has a Lights Fantastic Parade which has been a trigger in the past. We’ve had some moments where we will try something, and it is almost like a little experiment. If it works, great, if it doesn’t we know for the next time, or we know what we can do to prepare. We may venture out for the parade, but it is a lot.
Connect with other military caregivers or military families. Sometimes the support and relief that we need comes from a phone call, text message, or conversation with those who can understand how chaotic the holidays can be. Sure, it is stressful to our family and friends, but the reality of it is that sometimes we just have to reach out to those who really understand that the holidays bring emotions that some of our family and friends are not quite prepared for.
We avoid places that can be stressful like crowded malls and stores. Yes, it is helpful to have Memphis, but sometimes even with Memphis, Sam feels a little overwhelmed and just wants to leave. We didn’t attempt Black Friday shopping this year, we are just going to wait (but not too late) to do some shopping on our own (and of course online).
Treat yourself! Schedule a massage, a manicure, hair appointment, make some time for the gym, take a long run, have a lunch or coffee date, but make time for you. These small things are sometimes stress relievers for us, and they help us when we both feel overwhelmed. One of my favorite escapes and time away is when I go to the salon for my hair and nail appointment. I get to relax and get pampered while visiting with friends!
Try not to let the holidays give you the blues this year. We have so much going on at times that we just want our blanket forts, but we also enjoy the time of year, the decorations, lights, food, and time we can spend with our family and friends. Take care of one another and keep those holiday blues out!
Our family selfie game is on point. 🙂 This is a shot from our holiday season last year (as you can see the tree in the background). We love celebrating Christmas, but it is sometimes difficult for Sam, who has a different version of Christmas events due to deployment. Regardless, we push through, we stick together, and we know that our little family has so much love to give…we can conquer anything.