This post is sponsored by Verizon.
Everyone wants to connect during the holidays, but this can be a difficult challenge for military families. Many are stationed far from their relatives, and some service members spend time deployed away from loved ones. It takes some creativity to feel connected when you are apart.
During my two decades as a military loved one, my service member and I have spent so many holidays apart. When he was in Boot Camp during Christmas, he called me for the first time in months, and I barely recognized his voice because he was so hoarse. We were allowed to send a large batch of cookies that were distributed to his platoon.
Another Christmas, he was deployed to Japan, so I flew across the country with our four children by myself to spend time with my family. My husband stayed up late in his time zone to watch the kids open their presents on Christmas morning via video call.
While the holidays are a difficult time to be away from your service member or your family, there are now so many options to help you feel connected during moments that matter. Our family is thankful for Verizon’s reliable network that always helps us connect during the holidays.
Connect to your Service Member during the holidays
Send a taste of home. Care packages are an important way to include your service member in your holiday traditions and give them a taste of their favorite foods. Include non-perishable snacks and treats, along with small wrapped gifts, playing cards, and entertaining items. Consider sending holiday decorations and small gifts for your service member to share with their deployed unit, or send an extra care package for unmarried troops who get less mail. If you send homemade goods, research the best ways to preserve them since they may take over a week to arrive. Plan ahead and send seasonal care packages early, to accommodate for slower delivery times from the Post Office. Here are the details on sending a care package to a service member overseas.
Navigate time zone differences. If your service member is deployed to another part of the world, it might not be the same day where they are! Use apps that will help you both adjust to the time change. Clocks and timers can remind you when to wish them happy holidays for their time zone. Marco Polo lets you record video messages when it’s convenient for you, then the other person can view and respond whenever they are awake. Apps like Rave or SyncPlay let you watch movies together, so you can have a date night and enjoy watching a show together, no matter how far apart you are. Verizon “gives more to those who give the most,” offering service members a military discount, and allowing a deployed member to suspend wireless service at any time without penalty. Suspending the wireless service and just using the phone’s wifi apps can save you lots of money during deployments.
Play games together. A great way for deployed service members to connect with their loved ones is to spend time playing games together. Instead of waving to the screen during a video call, sign onto any game you can play remotely and enjoy some low-key bonding time. Verizon’s 5G network is great for streaming games on your device. And they have great offers for service members on the Verizon network: add a line for your child starting at $30, or get $200 off select Samsung phones. If you need game inspiration, check out World of Warships, currently offering a military discount to service members on the Verizon network.
Celebrate on your own schedule. There’s nothing wrong with Christmas in July! While the world celebrates Christmas on December 25th, not everyone opens presents that day. Children in Spain wait until Epiphany (January 6) to open their gifts, which are from the 3 Wise Men instead of Santa. So there’s no rule that your service member has to miss a holiday because they aren’t home on that day. There are years where we began decorating in October so we could enjoy some holiday spirit before he spent time away training. And there was one year where we saved all his gifts until February, when he returned from deployment, so we could have our own unique family holiday together. Don’t let “rules” and traditions cramp your holiday style.
Connect to your families during the holidays
Send virtual hugs home. If you are a military family who can’t travel home this year, you don’t have to miss family traditions and togetherness. Plan ahead to send cards, gifts, or a personalized care package to your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s more important to let them know you care. Children can trace their outstretched arms on paper to send a long-distance hug. Send a patriotic ornament or a food local to your duty station to give them a sweet taste of military life. If your parents will miss seeing your face at their holiday table, have something delivered to their door that will help cheer them up.
Video call for the moments that matter. Military families often aren’t able to travel for the holidays, so you may miss gathering with extended family. You can still join the celebration by scheduling a phone or video call when everyone is together. Let the phone get passed around for a few minutes so you have a chance to greet everyone. Verizon has your back, whether you need to connect with the community, have a strong network for virtual learning or working from home, or if you just need a clear picture for the moments that matter, like holiday dinners and Grandma’s birthday.
Volunteer to support the troops. Anyone can support troops during the holidays, whether you are a military family or a civilian living far from a military base. Spend your time or money supporting military-friendly organizations that give back to those who give the most. For example, Verizon partners with Wounded Warrior Project every year to show their support. And it’s no surprise that in 2020, Verizon was once again named in the Top 10 Military Friendly Companies. Learn more about how Verizon supports troops and military families.
This year, it’s more important than ever to connect with the ones you love during the moments that matter. Verizon is proud to be there with a reliable network and a history of supporting military families.