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Jo from Pelham, NH says: Caroline - I was wondering if you had any ideas for the upcoming holiday season. My husband is in the coast guard and will be gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. This is the first year in our marriage we will spend all these holidays apart. We have two boys who are 13 and 15. This is going to be really hard on them this year. They are used to dad missing things such as Christmas or birthdays, but it gets to them. I was hoping you could give some insight on how to make this holiday season special with my husband gone.
Caroline says: I hear you loud and clear, Jo. My husband is in the restaurant business, and my kids and I have celebrated more holidays and birthdays without him than with him. Explain to your boys that their dad is not absent by choice, and if he could be there to celebrate, he would.
I think the biggest mistake you could make would be to minimize the holiday because your husband isn’t there. Keep the tradition going; decorate, cook, and celebrate as you normally would. Fill the house with people, surround your boys with love and laughter. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourselves is not an option, and I’m willing to bet your husband would agree with me.
You’re going to think I’m crazy but here’s another thought… Who says Christmas has to be in December? Make up your own Christmas Day. If your husband is home now, have Christmas in June. Put up a tree, buy gifts, cook a great meal and celebrate. Your sons will probably think you’ve lost your mind, but when all is said and done, it will be a memory they will always treasure, I guarantee it. (I still recommend you celebrate 12/25 as well.)
Bottom line is when life gives you lemons you have to make lemonade. Attitude is everything. The good news is this is a temporary situation with your husband, and you’ll have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays together in the future. Some people aren’t that lucky. Just remember to count your blessings.