Candy canes and Christmas trees, carols and sugar cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas movies with the family – the holidays are a joyous time of year for sure. But they can also be difficult for many people, and this holds especially true for law enforcement personnel and their families. For law enforcement, the holiday season often means long hours on the job, away from loved ones, missing precious time with family.
That’s why we, as their family, friends, and community, need to show them just how much we care for them and appreciate the sacrifices they make to keep us and others safe all year-round.
So how do we go about making the holiday season easier and more joyous for everyone? Follow along for a few simple ways to show your support for your law enforcement loved one this holiday season.
Wise people know that communication is the key to every great marriage and family. Now it’s not always easy, but it’s definitely necessary, for both you and your loved ones, so that everyone can express their feelings, worries, concerns, and joys. And it’s more important than ever at potentially stressful times like the holidays.
Sit down well ahead of the holidays and talk about your plans. What do you want to do? What don’t you want to do?
Ask yourselves, what are some obstacles that may arise, some bumps in the road if you will, and how do you go about tackling those?
Things won’t always go as planned, and there will indeed be some bumps along the way when tempers flare. So here’s an idea – designate a keyword that can be used to slow things down and bring everyone back to calm. Perhaps mistletoe or holly, or even Frosty. When you hear that word, repeat it and know that it’s time to take a breath and think about what’s really important.
Prepare for the season
Like a team before a big game or remodeling an old house, preparing and having a plan beforehand will go a long way in making the chaotic holiday season go nice and smooth.
Ask about your loved one’s schedule as far in advance as possible so you know what to expect and how to plan. Then you can decide when you will celebrate the holiday – on the day of? The night before? The week after? When you celebrate isn’t as important as the celebration itself and that time spent with family.
Forming a plan for the holiday season will take much of the burden and stress off of everyone.
Don’t get attached to the plan
As great as it is to have a plan, unforeseen circumstances happen, so don’t get too attached with the plan. Doing so opens you up to even more anxiety and stress. The holidays are stressful for everyone and things can get crazy, so your law-enforcement loved one is probably under more stress as well. It’s a good bet that they have no say or choice when it comes to their schedule and whether they work on a holiday or not. It’s the nature of the job in law enforcement.
You should be proud of them that they’re sacrificing their time with family so that others can spend time with theirs safely and protected. Let them know you’re proud of them for that – often times that’s all they need to hear to help keep them going.
Try to keep a sense of normalcy. Establish family traditions. It doesn’t matter what day you celebrate on, as long as you stick to and enjoy your traditions, be that trimming the tree, opening gifts, or enjoying a roast turkey dinner. The traditions are what you and your family will remember for years to come.
What else can I do to show my support this holiday season?
Your law-enforcement loved one has to work on your special day this holiday season, so you’ll celebrate with family the week after. There are other ways you can show your support and have a joyous day. A great way to do this is by starting a tradition of volunteering at a local shelter or food bank. While your loved one is protecting the community, you and your family can give back as well by lending your time and compassion to others who are less fortunate.
Another great way to show support for not only your special someone, but their colleagues as well, is by making a home-cooked meal to take to the station and serve – perhaps a crock pot recipe or homemade lasagna and garlic toast.
Or, you and the kids can have a baking day and whip up your favorite cookie or cupcake for the station. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box. The holidays are what you make them to be.
The community often looks for ways to show their support as well. How do you do that? It’s as simple as offering a handshake and a thank you to your local law enforcement personnel. A friendly smile and a recognition of a job well done can go a long way during the holidays.
If you see a law enforcement member out for lunch or coffee, offer to pick up the tab as a way of saying thank you. You can also write a letter to your local newspaper, thanking them on behalf of the community for their service.
The holidays can certainly be a stressful and difficult time of the year, but with a little patience, understanding, and communication, your family can have the happiest of holidays and a fantastic start to the New Year.
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