PCS

4 Things Santa Did NOT Tell You About Moving During the Holidays

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PCS’ing is rarely easy. But when it happens over the holidays, and you’re moving kids mid-schoolyear, it brings some extra little nightmares that you’ll want to see coming in advance. Last year, I moved my family over the holidays. And in addition to doing a holiday move more than once as a military spouse, I also endured them as a military brat. This year, during the rare year when I’m actually staying in one place, I wanted to share my experiences with you.

1) Always check it twice.

Get your forms in your binder, along with all necessary paperwork and information. Then, nail it to yourself with a hot glue gun. Don’t let it out of your sight. Even to shower (well, you know what I mean). A reminder: With kids, it’s critical to make sure you have all outgoing and incoming school documents when switching during the middle of the year. Remember those shot records you only needed in August? Yeah, you’re gonna need them now in January. When switching from state to state, contact the incoming school FIRST. There may be different immunization required in different states. Keep the school’s phone and fax numbers handy, as well as addresses and any testing information.

2) Opening moving boxes does NOT count as presents.

You’ll need to do a bit of preparation in advance. If you are literally celebrating on the road, check out places that may have holiday celebrations at the hotel. Take a day to enjoy the holidays, and try to make it special. When my parents moved my brother and I to Korea on Christmas Eve (Yep. Thanks, Daddy!), Mom packed a separate trunk with small gifts she’d already wrapped and a small two-foot tree. When we arrived in Seoul, Mom whipped up an impromptu stateside holiday in about an hour. (Note: Kimchee ain’t a cool holiday supper in the eyes of a 10-year-old. If you’ve just landed overseas, kids will likely be craving Americana.) So wrap presents in advance and hide them in a separate box. Or use online free shipping and have everything mailed to the spot where you’ll celebrate the holidays. Last year, we mailed all of our three boys’ holiday gifts using ToysRUs.com free holiday shipping. We arrived on Dec. 23 at my mom’s house and everything was already there, wrapped and ready for Christmas morning.

3) Keep your kids connected to old friends during the holiday season.

They’re going to be new on the street, new in school. Let them Skype to wish their old friends “Happy Holidays” and let them know it’s OK to miss friends during what is a very emotional season. When we arrived at our new duty station, the boys called their old teachers to say hello the first day back. Their old teachers offered a few words of encouragement to start off the New Year, and kept in touch via e-mail.

4) Much like home, the spirit of Christmas is wherever the military sends you.

Don’t get bogged down in the Mr. and Mrs. Grinch mentality that you are forced to move during Christmas. So what? Be together, enjoy what you have, and make the best of it! Wear an elf hat for the entire travel if it helps. Bring whipped cream to have with hot chocolate at the gas station, and make an effort to say “Happy Holidays” to every person you encounter. We all get the short straw from time to time. Make it fun! Use shoe polish to write, “We’re celebrating XMAS on I-10 courtesy of the US Marine Corps!” on your car window!

As you say your evening prayers, remember… there are thousands of us alone this year with service members overseas. Say a small blessing for them, and SANTA UP! (I’m pretty sure even Santa would mutter a, “Hoo-rah!”)

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