Holidays like Easter are great, aren’t they? Celebrating. Unwrapping presents. Watching the pure joy in your children’s eyes as they find another jellybean-filled Easter egg. Enjoying the fact that you can live vicariously through that joy as if you too believed an oversized bunny packaged that special basket just for you.

But on Sunday, as I watched cars loaded with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins crowd the street by my neighbors’ homes, I couldn’t help but wonder with a touch of jealousy what holidays like Easter would be like if we weren’t a military family.

My family has always been dotted all over the map, but my husband grew up with the good fortune of living within a 5-mile radius of almost his entire family. I can only imagine how fun holidays were with everyone meeting at the same place at the same time with the ease of a 10-minute car ride. As much as I love (most of the time) being married to the military, I wish my children could experience the geographic closeness of family that their friends down the street have.

I know that living far away from family isn’t exclusive to military life, and I know that even if our home wasn’t dependent upon the whims of the military, our families are too spread out for us to ever have what our neighbors have. And I can’t complain too much because my husband and I are blessed with plenty of visits from our parents. But it would be nice if visits with other family members didn’t have to include extensive and expensive travel, rental cars, and hotel rooms. It would be nice if I could make travel plans well in advance without having to change them a million times (or ask someone to change theirs) to accommodate my husband’s changing work schedule. It would be nice if I didn’t have to figure out how to trudge from 1 airport terminal to another while lugging 2 kids, a carseat, a booster seat, and carry-on luggage by myself because my husband couldn’t travel with me (and believe me, without the kindness of strangers, it’s a near impossible feat). It would be nice if I could meet my niece before she celebrates her first birthday.

Do you wish your family lived closer together?  How do you help yourself and your children connect with far away family members in between visits?

14 Comments on Holidays Without the Family

  1. My husband's family live fairly close, so we do spend holidays with them all the time. It's nice, but in a way – I would be nice to have some time to ourselves.

    I'm an only child and my family (aunts, uncles, grandparents) are spread out and far away. It's sad but the only time we see them is at funerals.

    I guess there isn't a happy medium.

  2. i know just how you feel. My family has always moved around a lot and we're all spread out across the country, while my husband's entire family lives within 30 minutes of each other, and it's been that way since before he was born.

  3. Great heartfelt post. We moved here to the US six years ago and have no family or close friends here and I totally agree, at holiday times it really brings it home to you that your nearest and dearest are far away. I regret the fact that my daughter only sees her grandparents a couple of times a year and that she has yet to meet any of her nieces and nephews. My husband's sister lives just a few miles away from his parents and so her children get to see Grandma and Granddad all the time, not to mention the fact that his sister and her husband also get the opportunity to spend some time on their own regularly too, while the children enjoy a day with their Grandparents. I feel my daughter is missing out on so much.

    We use skype to talk with our parents, sisters and their families over in England and this works really well, much better than phone calls. For my daughter who is just three actually seeing the people she is talking to helps so much as she is then much more willing to speak herself, and runs off happily to fetch things to show them, or to get her tricycle to demonstrate her new skills etc. Not to mention the fact that it is free and saves us a fortune in phone calls! If you are not already using a service like Skype I would recommend it.

  4. My siblings and I are relatively close together to each other and our parents. We don't see each other every weekend, but we visit for bdays, holidays, and special events.

    I don't think I would like living too far away from them…I would miss them too much!

  5. I definitely know what you mean! Mine and my hubby's families are both on the West Coast so living 3000 miles is hard during the holidays. We definitely take advantage of skype and facebook! It definitely makes things a little easier.

  6. Oh girl! This just hits home today! We found out yesterday we didn't get the orders we put in for (again!). If we had we would've been 3 hours from all of our family. It was just devastating! It is so hard being so far away from family – especially on holidays. We try to go home for our girls' birthdays, which are both in the summer, & again at Christmas. In between we try to get the kids on the phone or skype with family so they can keep in touch. But honestly, the hardest for me is my nieces & nephews. I hate that all of our kids are growing up away from each other. But I keep hoping that once they get old enough we can start doing summer trips together or "trading" for like a week or something so they'll get to see each other more. (And maybe so we can finally get some actual 'honeymoonish' time lol)

  7. Aww, I'm sorry you don't live close to your family. On the bright side, maybe all the moving around the military makes you do will enable you to live close to a bunch of different family members that are dotted around the map?

  8. Yes, I wish my family and his family were closer, I wish they could spend more time with the kids and help with them and babysit them, so me and my husband can go out…I know exactly what you mean. What does your husband do in the military> Does he goes often on TDYs, deployments? My husband is on TDY every 2-3 weeks. Sometimes he's gone for 3 days, sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month… and yes, he's getting deployed in June…for 6 months.

  9. I go through this every holiday – I am not a military wife, but my family is so far away. I find myself a little jealous when I see families enjoying their holidays & wish that I were closer… So glad to have friends who are like family. And Facebook..

  10. I'm not sure how we're going to handle holidays. We've already talked about Christmas and how, since SoldierMan automatically has those days off, we'd like to take a vacation then, but I'd feel bad not using the time to come home and see the family. I'm still torn!

    BTW, left you a surprise on my blog!

  11. At first it didn't bother me at all. My family is small and we never did much for the holidays. But in the past couple of years it has really impacted me. Especially this last holiday- being as far as we are now. Not only do I wish we were closer to family- but I wish I had closer friends nearby as well. I don't make friends (close friends) easily anymore- I don't know why. So I get really lonely during the holidays when there is no family or close friends to celebrate with. Hubby's family is all in one state. I feel bad our kids are the only ones who don't get to join in on the fun with all their cousins.
    I have something for you on my blog- though I am thinking maybe someone else gave it to you too! You are awesome! 🙂

  12. I honestly don't know what I would do if my parents lived in the same town as me. Apart of me would LOVE that very much. I know friends whose parents, in-laws, cousins all live within 10 miles. I can't even imagine. We didn't even live that way growing up. My husband did though and he is really the only one of the cousins that doesn't live in the same town as everyone else. I think it is hard on him sometimes.

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