Published Sept. 2018- Updated July 2020
Any senior Firefighter Wife whose been around a few years can confirm; the holidays are a weird time of the year for first responders. Not only are there more things to do like events and work parties, but they also have to deal with missing time with their family and dealing with the hardships of the job while being away from home.
It’s not easy- that’s a fact.
Here’s an open letter to all the new Firefighter Wives this holiday season.
A letter to the Fire Wife and what she might not know about the Christmas season with her firefighter.
Are you a brand new fire wife? Or Maybe you’ve had a few firefighter holidays under your belt.
Well, Buckle up, because its going to be a fun ride! It doesn’t matter if your firefighters is a volunteer, career, military or somewhere in between- the holidays are crazy for our first responders.
With all the extra holiday cheer, it also means that there will be more accidents, more weird calls and more fires (thanksgiving has a 400% increase!!!).
As if the increased call volume wasn’t enough, the schedules get changed up at the holidays no matter how old fashioned your department is.
Maybe no one told you this (along with 938520935802 other things about the fire life that totally caught you by surprise) but the Holidays with a Firefighter are anything but normal
Some people need time off for certain events and swaps and overtime happens to cover the gaps. People get sick- yes the dreaded holiday colds are common among our firefighters who help strangers in their time of need.
You know what else comes with the holidays?? Crazy winter weather. Sure, everyone wants a white Christmas, until they are snowed in with an emergency. That’s where your firefighter comes in.
Even in warmer climates, weather causes a fuss. Have you seen Floridians when there is frost on the ground? It’s practically a state of emergency. And yes, they call the Fire Department because their door is frozen shut. Crazy weather also means more calls, more overtimes shifts and longer commutes.
It means that the Fire Wives end up staying at home by ourselves or Solo Parenting with the kids when the weather is bad while Firefighter runs into the station. Whose had a bad weather party by themselves? I know I have!
The good news is that other women know the struggle of the holiday season.
First things first Fire Wife, do you understand the fire service?
It’s certainly an obsession for your spouse, but do YOU understand it? I can admit, that when my new husband told me he was joining up with the fire department when we had a brand new baby I thought he was down right crazy!
I just didn’t understand everything else about how important the fire service and our first responders are.
It’s a job that few people understand! You might be surprised how life changing this career really is and how being a ‘Fire Wife’ comes with its own set of challenges.
So what’s a spouse to do? Wether this is your first holiday season together or fifth, you learn to roll with the punches. That means that dates get changed and schedules rearranged.
Sometimes you end up going to work, city, or family events by yourself or just with the kids (and hopefully you can learn to enjoy it!). I know I’ve been there many times, the inevitable “where is your husband” questions come up. It’s only people being curious.
It means dinners late, and dinners early. And two dinners, one at home and one at the station and somehow you were convinced to help cook for both!
It also means nosy neighbors, fighting with decorations by yourself and upset feelings.
Because the holidays are a special time for many people, and having to find a new groove with your firefighter can be exhausting. My family certainly didn’t understand the first few years, and neither did many of my friends. Its a completely different world if you haven’t been exposed to it before.
And Lastly, it means a lot of overwhelm and sadness if you are expecting things to go smoothly and they end up a total mess.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. Your firefighter is a needed part of the team that helps other people have a fun and safe holiday.
You and your firefighter CAN find a balance between work and home- even with the Christmas season craziness.
You are ultimately a wife first and a fire wife second, don’t let this season be difficult.
Dear Fire Wife, Don’t get burned out by the Holiday Season
So get out the red marker, make sure your firefighter is aware of important dates and events and have fun with the crazy schedule you’ve been given.
Communicate about what’s important to you and what your firefighter has in mind (because chances are they are two different things!)
Holidays don’t have to be stressful- especially when you are thankful. No, it’s not like a hallmark movie, but that’s ok, because your firefighter is worth it!
It’s time to celebrate what really matters and have grace on yourself because fire life holidays ARE DIFFERENT.
They can be difficult too, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the time you’ve been given.
One last word of warning- your Firefighter may have a harder time this holiday season.
Picture this, it’s the day before a holiday and your FF gets a call- one of those calls.
The ones that could haunt their dreams for years to come, and then they’re supposed to come home and be happy and cheerful for the family.
Your firefighter is the one they call when shit hits the fan- 365 no matter what day it is. Find resources for mental health and PTSD and remember. You are NOT alone. Other Fire Wives go through this too- and sometimes its worse during the holidays.
Dear Fire Wife ( or any combination of someone that loves and lives with a firefighter) Just know that the Holiday season can still be magical- even with all this extra stress.