What Military Life *Honestly* Looks Like at Christmas Time

cover pc: Julie Pease

Featured on the 2016 December cover of Military Spouse Magazine is a beautifully idyllic scene taken by an incredible photographer, Morgan Slade. She captured the quintessential Christmas picture: Lights aglow, children and friends arm-in-arm, sharing the magic of Christmas with each other while deployed dads spent time in Afghanistan.

Take a quick look.


It’s beautiful, right?

This photo says it all– Happiness. Solidarity. Magic.

Ooh, unfortunately, this is where I crush those visions of sugarplums into powdered sugar, my friends…

That’s not exactly how it happened. Trust me. I was there. It’s my house. Half of those kids are mine (ahem, the ones with the unbrushed hair) and are probably unbathed and, as I recall, covered in frosting.

It took us around four thousand bribes of “Don’t move, and I’ll buy you ice cream and a pony and a new bike and a palace in Arendelle” and cries of “Don’t-let-the-baby-go-until-we-get-this-shot-you-hold-onto-her-tight-you-hear-me-this-is-MAGICAL-insert-swear-word-here.” And I’m pretty sure we turned off the lights so our posterity couldn’t see that my floor hadn’t been vacuumed in approximately 6 years.

But, you see, that is Christmas-for-realz in my military world. A whole bunch of love smashed (probably literally) into an equal measurement of chaos and basic survival techniques. Maybe add a smattering of “Silent Night” (probably not literally) and maybe a bit of that baby Jesus if we’re lucky.

But it’s relatable. (Right? Right?) And we all need a little bit more relatable in our lives, you know?

So here are 10 examples of other relatable military moments at Christmastime.

  • PredicamentSpouse is deployed. You got kids. They’re, uh, a bit whiny, and you need to get out before you make like a volcano and, well, you get it. Some nice neighbor with a big heart and lots of patience offers to watch them while you go Christmas shopping or just leave forever. Don’t hurry out too fast now.


  • Some grouch in OCPs bent on ruining holiday happiness (aka the antagonist of any Christmas Hallmark movie) has scheduled mandatory military training over the weekend of your kid’s first dance recital. Not only do you have to go to the recital stag (and by stag, I mean having other children hanging off of you like ornaments), but you’re going to look a little fishy stealing a pile of doughnuts from the refreshment table by yourself.


  • And, of course, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the begrudged unit holiday party. (Chit-chat. I hate chit-chat.) Someone with a horrible soul and a grinchy sense of humor has asked if you will please, pleeeeeaase plan the get-to-know-you activities that everyone hates. Gah.

Talking. Adults. Games. Death.


  • And THEN you read that the aforementioned unit holiday party will be “light refreshments” only, so you cry a little and pack extra cake in your purse for the dull times. And to make friends. I’ll be friends with you if I can have some cake.


  • Also, don’t forget to overindulge a lot a little. Mandatory fun.