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Christmas is just a few weeks away, yet the only decoration in our house is our advent calendar. Our tree is still tucked (read: lost) in the garage, presents haven't purchased much less wrapped and it will stay that way until probably the last week of January. Being a military family, we have two choices: we can celebrate as an incomplete family on December 25th or wait until my husband returns from deployment and celebrate as a whole family whenever he returns. Really, there is no choice to be made. Christmas isn't about the presents under the tree or outdoing your neighbor's light display, it is about family.

Last year Christmas came a week early. While my husband was physically home on December 25th, his mind was elsewhere. We knew this was going to be the case. He was set to deploy the morning of the 26th for a year long over seas assignment. So, I worked my Military Spouse Magic and got Santa to come early.

I have had people ask if changing the day we celebrate Christmas confuses our kids. They understand that Christmas is at the end of December and that after the holiday break at school, all their friends will come bounding into the class talking about all their awesome new toys. They also understand that Christmas is a time to be with family. The whole family. And in the military that often means waiting on a loved one to return home.

This doesn't mean that we don't partake in some of the holiday traditions in December. We still bake and eat way more goodies than we should, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and dig through our pockets to find something to put in the Salvation Army's buckets. This weekend I hope to get our Christmas cards made, but knowing me, they won't get mailed until we celebrate Christmas. This is not done intentionally, I just really hate taking Teague to the Post Office. I walk in there with my sweet, little Mogwai and somehow he is given water, food after midnight and put in front of bright light, leaving me to deal with an evil gremlin.

On Christmas Day the kids are allowed to open one present that I am sure my husband would rather not "enjoy" with the kids. Normally it is the kind of present that is either really loud or requires a ton of assembly. This year it will be owl pellets. Sweetie, if you are reading this, you are welcome for doing this before you get home. I was going to give it to you to do with the kids while I go get a massage.

The military is filled with traditions and when you live this life, you often adopt new traditions of your own. We have many military related traditions, but the most important to me is our Christmas whenever the husband returns home. So if you happen to drive by my house at the end of January and see me hanging Christmas lights, I haven't gone completely crazy, I am just preparing for Christmas with my sailor.

Miranda is a Navy wife and mother to three kids: Hailey, Josie and Teague. All three have a swallowing disorder, Teague has ASD and Josie has Chiari. Miranda is the VP of Community Outreach for the Military Special Needs Network. You can contact her at MirandaFort@MilitarySpecialNeedsNetwork.com.

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