1. Combat boots by the front door

Operation Dynamic Partnership Part Three [Image 28 of 28] from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 DVIDSHUB, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
Or no boots at all.  Ditto for an empty stocking. Sometimes, they’re all over the place. Other times, their absence is overwhelming.

2.That smell

Sand from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 NeedMoreCoffeeMan, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

The smell of something vaguely military. (Chestnuts, turkey, and…is that JP5?  Do I actually smell sand?)

3. Presents

Present from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 jayneandd, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

By the computer…to show a deployed service member when he/she calls home.

4.Wrapping paper

wrapping paper from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Carlin, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Right next to the customs slips, mailing boxes, and Sharpies. What would the holidays be without making care packages a month before?

5. Military ornaments.

Military Families Meet with Dr. Biden at Holiday Reception from Flickr via Wylio
© 2014 U.S. Army RDECOM, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

You know what I’m talking about. They were the gifts at the command holiday party with a snazzy logo on them, they’re the Army/Marine/Navy wife ones you were given at an FRG white elephant exchange, or the ones with anchors, boot prints, or other symbols emblazoned on them.