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Christmas Memory Making: Hotel Edition

As I write this, I’m looking around my current duty station house with the packers scheduled to arrive in less than four days. It’s Dec. 8, and we’re PCSing for our first OCONUS move before Christmas, which means we’ll be living in a hotel over the Christmas holiday.

Now, part of this move was our conscious decision. You see, we have school-aged children, and deciding to move after their current school released for the Christmas holiday and before their new school started back in the New Year was the best way we thought we could help them transition in the middle of a school year.

But, it also means getting a little creative with how to celebrate a child’s favorite holiday when you’re in a single hotel room with no car, no decorations, and limited amount of space for presents.

I’ve been thinking about this for months now because it’s the first reaction everyone has when we tell them we’re moving during the holidays. “You’ll be in a foreign country over Christmas? How are you going to do that?”

At first, it truly felt like I needed to throw a pity party for my kids, but the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized I had the power to make this the most magical Christmas they’ll ever have.

At the very least, it will be the Christmas they’ll never forget.

We aren’t log-jammed with commitments and trying to bake and make and attend all the things. We will miss out on the church Christmas Eve living nativity pageant, but we have the excitement of new experiences and different Christmas memories that most people will never get to witness outside the pins on Pinterest. (P.S.: I think that may be one of the most incredible opportunities the military provides us, but that’s another blog post for another time.)

The first thing that meant a lot to me was a Christmas tree. I’ve seen some other military spouses post that they purchase a little Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree and small ornaments to have in the hotel. While I love that idea, I didn’t want to take up precious suitcase space with a tree and ornaments.

Instead, I got a huge piece of butcher paper and painted a tree on it. It’s easy to fold and pack flat and can be hung in the hotel and thrown out when we’re ready for it to go. I also got a piece of red butcher paper and painted “Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year” to hang on our hotel door.

You know, spreading cheer and blessings for the holiday season because we’re in this PCS thing together at the hotel.

We’re packing our stockings and stocking stuffers, and I did ask family to please ship their gifts to our APO box so we have some gifts to open on Christmas morning.

I don’t know about you, but my kids have enough “stuff.” The older they get, the more we err on the side of giving them experiences they’ll remember as opposed to a toy they’ll play with for a couple of weeks, then let collect dust on the shelf.

That may be the theme of Christmas 2017 for our family—togetherness, experiences, memories as a family.

Christmas is special, to be sure. It’s memories and family. It’s what we make of it, no matter where the military puts us on that given day. I hope you and your family have a blessed and magical day despite whatever circumstances you may be in or going through.



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