Thanksgiving Without Him; Alone Again
On a day filled with turkey and pie, our social media news feeds often bring a stark reminder of the missing piece of our heart not able to join in on the Thanksgiving feast. Duty calls. And we are police wives. Or husbands.
If you are new to this calling of law enforcement, you may be facing questions from family members, or even children, wondering… Where is he? Most normal people have Thanksgiving off. What do you mean he has to work? They don’t get that day off?
Our typical response can be sadly, “no.”
As a wife who has been through 5 years of holidays, birthdays, anniversary’s, and special events, I’m getting more used to the hard questions that come. I don’t expect people to coddle me simply because of the hard questions… no. But I do try to make light of it and answer as best I can! Sometimes, I get really creative, other times, I leave it as is. For some of us, it gets easier as time goes on. We learn to adapt. We learn to rearrange. We learn to work around the situations at hand. And I encourage you to learn to do the same. But before I go much further, let me answer a few questions which may be nagging at you.
The situation of your husband working during holidays is well beyond your control. Unfortunately, there won’t be much, if anything, you can do to change the fact he has to suit up and hit the streets. But please trust me when I say… Your husband would rather be home sharing turkey with you. He would rather be with the family watching football and eating pumpkin pie than dealing with drug dealers, prostitutes, and families who are attempting to get along when “Uncle Bob” got smashed, ruined the sweet potato pie, and a full blown domestic dispute broke out. (And heaven help us Texans if the Cowboys lose on Thanksgiving Day. Be prepared for the violence to erupt!) So believe me when I say… Your officer would much rather be with you! But since he can’t, please don’t hold it against him. Instead, let’s look at some ways you can make the best of this situation.
Learn to Adapt
You’ve heard it said before, but sometimes you simply must celebrate at a different time. I know it’s not the traditional time when most people celebrate, but make the most of the time you do have and celebrate then. Schedule it, put it on the calendar so you can see it, and invite family over for the occasion, if you choose! We’ve been known to celebrate a week before, late at night, or even bright and early the next day. (After Black Friday shopping, of course!) Don’t be afraid to make new traditions! And accept the family invitations you get. It’s ok to go without your officer. Learn to be “ok” with doing things without him, at times. Not all times, but on occasion. And when the time comes and he can join in, celebrate, my friend!
Bring Them the Celebration
It may be a skeleton crew, but your husband has a host of co-workers who are also missing out on time with their family, both officers and dispatchers. And sadly, some may not even have family close by at all. I personally look forward to the holidays now (along with random times throughout the year) where I can feed and give back to the officers in our lives. I was dubbed “Momma Merritt” at one point. It began with me packing up my car and driving to the department to feed anyone who was able to stop in. Including dispatchers. I’ve been known to make cookies, bring them other goodies, and pack up a full meal with fixings. Not only did it allow us a little extra special time with our officer while working, but it was a way to give back to those sharing the beat with him. It eventually lead to, when my husband is off and since we live nearby, us opening our home having a full shift come through! It’s a safe place for them to eat, and it allows us to get to know them as a “person,” not just an officer. And we enjoy doing it together. Discuss with your husband about what the two of you can do for those missing family. Ask him if there is an officer who you could bring a plate to. Or, maybe you invite them and their family to join your family’s celebration.
Invite Others Along
Meeting the officers is a great way to get to know their families too. As we know, our LEO’s aren’t the most trusting. It will take time to build trust and see your family as safe. But I encourage you to meet and get to know their families. If they have kids, invite the kids for play dates. If they have a wife, extend an invitation for coffee. Maybe she can help you with a shift and y’all work together to prepare a meal! She does sides, you do a dessert. Share the time and get to know the ladies who walk the line with you. Put yourself in their shoes and know, like you, they may be feeling the stings of loneliness. If they don’t accept, that’s ok. But at least put the offer out there. Those who need it will respond.
I’m there with you, sweet family. I know it’s tough not having your officer at your side when the holidays roll around. Take some of these ideas as a starting point, discuss with your officer, and see what adjustments can be made in your unique situation. I’ve even seen wives giving back at food banks, homeless shelters, churches, you name it. Turn off social media if it’s too much to see, but please don’t isolate yourself. You can make the best out of it. It may be too late for this Thanksgiving, but Christmas is coming. Start planning now! And while you are at it, get a game plan together for next Thanksgiving. You have a full year to do it. Build bridges, build relationships, and build unity. And do your best to enjoy the Thanksgiving day God gave you today!
(Photo courtesy Officer G. Goss, Rossford Police Department, Ohio)