The thought of the holidays for many law enforcement families is stressful. Knowing that your loved one may not be celebrating with you is a downer- I’ll admit it. It is not easy trying to figure out when you will actually celebrate your holiday together. Then throw in coordinating family functions with extended family. It gets rather tricky and not everyone is understanding- even extended family.
The opposite side of the spectrum is a law enforcement wife and family that is so used to the holidays apart that they don’t miss a beat. They are used to the rescheduling and holidays are just one more piece of the law enforcement life puzzle. They fit time with their officer in when they can get it and that’s that! I am sure this mentality did not happen over night nor did it happen fresh out of the academy. Part of it is personality, but a huge piece is time and experience. This is the law enforcement family that may say “no” to certain holiday events (which is not a bad thing AT ALL- I actually suggest it)!
Whether you fall on one end of the spectrum or lie somewhere in between, knowing how to handle the holidays as a law enforcement family is helpful. Here’s what you can do:
Be prepared as far in advance as you can be. This means, asking your husband for his schedule to see if he is working on the holidays or not. Generally, they know this in advance unless there are special assignments. Try to look at the calendar ahead of time with your spouse to plan when you will celebrate major holidays. Factor in seeing extended family, too- will your officer go to those functions or not? Is it important for you to get quality time as an immediate family? Or are you okay with group celebrations? Have everything scheduled so there are no surprises. Surprises usually mean unnecessary stress and no one wants stress around the holidays!
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Flexibility is key for law enforcement families. While celebrating on different days may not be ideal, it is the nature of the law enforcement life. So my suggestion is to be as open as possible. For example, our children are young and they don’t yet realize what days Thanksgiving or Christmas should fall on. Therefore, we don’t mind celebrating these holidays on different days.
To us, it is all about being together. Maybe you will celebrate Thanksgiving the weekend prior, on your officer’s weekend off. Or you will open Christmas presents in the middle of the day after your husband has slept from working the night shift. If you have family close by then you could use the holidays your husband works to spend time with them. Try to go with the flow as much as possible but don’t compromise on family traditions if you don’t have to.
It’s okay to feel frustrated-it’s actually normal
To be honest with you, my husband and I have MORE than one discussion to make concrete holiday plans. There is a lot of going back and forth between him and I, talking with his family, my family, out-of-town family, etc. It can really get frustrating. We are not frustrated with our family, just the process. Regardless, every year IT ALL TURNS OUT JUST FINE. Once the holidays arrive, we are all happy, festive, and enjoy each other’s company. Each year we get a little better about being more flexible and figuring out what is REALLY important to us during the holiday season (this, too, will come with time).
If you need help knowing what to say to family and friends or navigating the holidays for your law enforcement family, then check out my brand new printable pack called Holidays with a Hero. It helps you (and your kids) with EVERY aspect of the holiday season and it is designed just for law enforcement families. Check it out here.
And did you know?
Your holiday plans will turn out just fine, too! They really will. The law enforcement life does present its challenges from time to time- this is definitely one of them. But being prepared for what is to come, being open, and staying positive that it will all work out in the end is how to handle the holidays best!
If you are looking for a holiday gift guide for law enforcement officers, then be sure to check mine out here. It has the latest and best gifts that I could find! You can also head on over to the Thin Blue Line USA website- you won’t be disappointed!
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