We all live the realization that being married to a police officer means we don’t exactly live a traditional, 9-5 lifestyle. So scheduling can be less than ideal, especially when trying to create holiday traditions as a law enforcement family.
I remember our first married year as husband and wife and having to plan Christmas with all our loved ones. Gosh, was it not enjoyable, to say the least. It felt as if no one understood our “open pockets of time” for celebrating. Some days we would only have a few hours in the morning to celebrate or in the evening, so it never seemed to jive with everyone else.
After many years, we finally started making our own traditions. It took a while, but I started to realize that I didn’t need our plans to look like everyone else’s. Our plans only need to work for our immediate family, most importantly our children. Being together, whenever that may be, is what matters most.
And it turns out I am not alone. Many law enforcement families are creating their own holiday traditions, too. And, those traditions change quite frequently just as the schedule does.
Here are 7 holiday traditions that can make law enforcement life a tad easier:
Celebrations happen when your officer is home. This means Santa doesn’t arrive until then and your immediate family does not celebrate without your spouse. Usually with this lifestyle, life goes on, but during the holidays I always make sure my husband is included. Christmas or Thanksgiving may be celebrated two days before the actual day, but it is all worth it just to be together. While you may miss your spouse (I certainly do), I try to remember this is just a day on the calendar.
Eat meals at different times of the day so your officer can be included. Thanksgiving dinner is sometimes at noon, the next year at 6 pm, it is all determined by his schedule each year. Truly we have learned to just worry about us and our extended family seems to adjust just fine.
Open your home to first responders working in the area. This is a great way to offer a hot meal to the men and women who can’t be home with their families or don’t live in the same area in which they work. Especially if you can’t seem to make the first two tips work and your officer has to work all day. Have your home open, with heated crockpots, to allow your officer and others to come freely.
Bring your holiday meal to the department or meet and eat in fancy containers. Some of us may not have this option if our officer is working far away, but if your officer is within an hour or so, it is worth the drive (and sometimes wait, because don’t we always wait for them to be done with a call?) to eat together. I have pulled up many times with Tupperware containers of our holiday meal just to see his face.
Have a tradition of “no traditions”-just go with the flow and appreciate one another’s company. This can be easier to do if you don’t have little ones in the home. But some years it is nice to not get stressed with the planning and events and just let the schedule be just that- a schedule. We can’t always control it so instead, focus on what you can control.
Saying “no” to too many holiday events. I am giving you permission, right now, to cancel plans. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or just dread being asked “where your husband is” at one more holiday party, then by all means, don’t feel like you have to do it all. You are allowed to say “no”, actually I encourage it!
TIP: If you need help crafting a message on how to say no to friends/family this holiday season, be sure to check out my all new Holidays with a Hero download. It will help you have confidence in sticking with your own plans and provide you with organization this holiday season. Check it out here.
Rotate holidays. Your mother in law might not like me for saying this, but it is time for you and your spouse to create a schedule you can both live with. This may mean rotating holidays. One year you may see your parents on Christmas Eve, the next year it may mean they get Christmas Day. You may travel for the holidays one year and not the next. To be honest, for most of us, it is rare if we can make it work, with all members of our family for every holiday, so rotation is best.
A few other traditions I love:
Adopt a law enforcement family in need. Provide food, toys, essentials to someone less fortunate than you.
Put up a Thin Blue Line Christmas tree somewhere in your home. We do this every year and it is so fun! In addition to our regular tree, we have a small, artificial tree that my husband hangs various police and thin blue line related ornaments on. It even has blue lights!
No matter what works for others or has even worked in the past, focusing on traditions that work best for YOUR family is what matters. And hopefully they make your law enforcement life a bit easier rather than more stressed this time of year!
The gifts don’t matter, the monogrammed pjs don’t matter, having the perfect traditions year after year are great, but being together when you can is what matters.
What holiday traditions has your family adopted?
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