Every year it’s the same. Pilot families all around the world hold their collective breaths waiting for that moment that makes or breaks us. It’s the moment when we find out if he, our beloved pilot, will be home with his own family for Christmas…or making sure other people get to be with theirs.
The release of the December schedule.
It’s a delicate emotional precipice–a moment that either leaves us giddy with joy or broken-hearted. If the scheduling gods shine down upon our lives with favor we are granted a glorious season of togetherness, family, and our pilots home for Christmas!
But more often than not…
When hoards of other human beings are desperate to get home to their own families for the holidays, it means the majority of our pilots will be [not] home with theirs.
It means on Christmas morning he will be completely alone in some faraway hotel room and you will be stuck at home trying to put on a ‘Christmas spirit face’ for the kids’ sake while inside you feel like curling up in bed with a warm blanket and crying your eyes out.
That, ladies, is the pilot wife life.
There’s no denying it bites. Big time. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you this life is all silvery snowflakes and shiny bows when sometimes it’s more like charred cookies and cocoa stains on your favorite shirt.
I’m not here to tell you to pretend that his being [not] home for the holidays is easy or fun. It’s not. I’m here to ask the essential questions. How do we survive it? How do we find some semblance of normalcy in the chaos, if not for us then for our children?
How do we find moments of laughter in the loneliness and positive perspective in the negative?
1. Celebrate as a family. If Santa has ever had to make a special early trip to your house so ‘Daddy can celebrate with you,’ you might be an aviation family. It is more important for your family that you celebrate together than it is to celebrate on the actual date. Choose a day when daddy is home and have Santa make a special trip just for your family! He won’t mind, after all he’s a pilot too!
2. Don’t project blame. The aviation life has many nuances, and spending holidays apart is a big one. We must be careful that we do not inadvertently misplace our frustrations about the job upon our spouse. You want him home, sure. And he wants to be home celebrating with you too! Don’t let your frustrations with the job affect your attitude toward the person. Love him fiercely and remember he misses you as much as you miss him.
3. Spend time with family and community. Even though you celebrated the holiday on a day when you were together, there is still something depressing about being apart on the actual day. Spending the day with family or perhaps gathering with a group of other pilot wives will give you something to do other than wallowing in self-pity.
4. Volunteer. There are innumerable organizations serving the community or less fortunate that are in desperate need of extra hands during the holidays. Feeding the homeless, serving at an orphanage, walking shelter dogs, or visiting the elderly is a beautiful way to spend the holiday. It is nearly impossible to feel sorry for yourself while serving the needs of others. You are also teaching your children an invaluable lesson about compassion and positivity.
5. Stay positive even when it’s hard. There’s no doubt that it’s difficult or less than ideal to be apart from your pilot during the holidays. However, remember that it’s also hard for your children and your pilot too. Intentionally choosing to focus on the positive and speak words of encouragement and joy instead of bitterness and complaining can make the situation a little easier for everyone. Even though you’re not face-to-face, you can still remain heart-to-heart.
I hope that your pilot is home for the holidays. If he is, I celebrate your joy with you!
If he’s not, I pray that you keep your head up and remember that you are not alone. Your aviation family is right here with you. Though it’s not easy, I pray you find the moments of love, laughter, and light and hold onto them with all your might.
You are beautiful, aviation sisters. Stay strong.
Merry Christmas and happy Hanukah!
~A Fellow Pilot Wife