What do a deployment, the stomach flu, a pant-less post-Thanksgiving dinner baby, screaming on Santa’s lap, hosting holiday dinner and a midday pajama party have in common? If you guessed that they were all events of my holiday season last year you’re either a really good guesser or you know me outside of this blog.
Either way, you’re right. This was, in fact, my reality just a year ago. My husband’s deployment had spoiled all my carefully made plans for a perfect first holiday season for our son, J, and I was forced to improvise. It wasn’t always ideal, it definitely wasn’t always pretty, but J and I survived with some pretty priceless memories (that I will remind him of later).
With my husband deployed for the whole shebang, August–January, I did the best that I could (with the help of a few dear friends) to make J’s first holiday season a memorable one:
- I took J to his first pumpkin patch.
- J passed out candy to trick-or-treaters until his 8:00 bedtime. Let’s just say I ate a lot of leftover candy last year.
- J tasted his first Thanksgiving dinner. OK, he at least ate sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
- We sent daddy cards, letters and care packages to help him feel a little more festive without us.
- We (I) went all out decorating the house for the holidays. No scrooges allowed just because we were down an important family member.
- J (and I against my better judgment) sat on Santa’s lap at the squadron holiday party. Fact: J is not a fan of Old Saint Nick.
- J drooled over freshly baked holiday cookies, and we ate too many after realizing I made way too many for one and a half people.
- We welcomed both sets of grandparents for the holidays and hosted our very first holiday dinner, although J was no help at setting the table since he couldn’t yet walk.
- We celebrated J’s first birthday with a few good friends and pancakes at his midday pajama party.
- We rang in the New Year. J made it to around 8:30 or so.
Yeah, last year was something special, for sure. And now that I’m 99.9 percent sure that we’ll get to have my husband home this year, I’m a little giddy. I’m a major sucker for the holiday season anyway with all the good cheer, generosity, baked goods and the coveted Thanksgiving dinner. My own love for the holidays is probably the only reason I was able to keep it together last year.
This year is a whole new ball game, though! This is the one and only year we’ll celebrate as a family of three before the debut of baby number two, and I can’t wait for my husband to see what the holidays are like through J’s eyes; it’s indescribable. And, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also looking forward to a little help assembling gifts, eating those delicious cookies and carving the Thanksgiving turkey.
Who knows what little surprises this holiday season has in-store for the three of us. Perhaps we can have a less traumatic Santa experience, or maybe J will magically learn to say “trick-or-treat” by Halloween; no such luck so far. Maybe J will be a little more willing to try the spread at Thanksgiving dinner so I don’t have to make a last second bowl of macaroni and cheese. Who knows?
One thing is for sure, though: this year will be much different than the last. We are living in a different house, in a different city, in a different state nearly 1,500 miles from our first home. We’re together, and we couldn’t be happier about it. To anyone currently in our position from last year, it won’t always be easy, but make the most of it and that one of a kind holiday season will be something you won’t easily forget. Good, bad or ugly, you’ll never have a holiday season like this one again.