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Military Family

When You’re Alone for the Holidays

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deploymentBeing away from family and friends during the holidays can be disheartening. Whether it’s too far to go home, too expensive, or your spouse doesn’t have time off. Last minute changes can happen at any time and throw all plans out the window.

If you find yourself stuck at home, for the first or the fifth time, here are a few suggestions to make things cheery and bright from someone who has been in this situation many times over the years. Even if it’s just the two of you, there’s no reason to skip out on making the holidays special or starting a new tradition to carry on in years to come.

  • Decide what traditions you’d like to keep from your family. Did your mom make cinnamon rolls in the morning? Special decorations for the table?
  • What new traditions could you start? Sometimes these come purely by accident, but try a few. If it doesn’t work, next year you can skip that.
  • Start to purchase holiday dinnerware sets. If you’re just starting out, it’s the perfect (and cheapest) way to do this: 2-3 at a time. Just make sure the pieces you buy can be purchased for years to come.
  • Reach out to others who might be alone. You may be surprised at how many others are alone, a family that might bring dessert and spend part of an evening after a holiday meal or the entire day with you all.
  • Skype with family at some point. It’s the next best thing to being there. We used this for opening Christmas presents last year, but I might as I prepare Thanksgiving dinner this year.
  • Include a memory. If your uncle came for Thanksgiving and made rolls, ask him for the recipe to carry that on in your home. In a way, it’s like they are there with you.
  • If you have kids, have them make pictures to send to family at home (Thanksgiving turkey handprints!) or little cards your family can keep in view.
Another thing to do is volunteer at a place that serves free meals on Thanksgiving, or help with a food drive prior.

Our city is based around the military base my husband is stationed at, so each year they get families in the area who offer to host single soldiers without family, families who just moved here, or who can’t afford a Thanksgiving. We didn’t know about this in time to join in last year, but this year we’re opening up our home to anyone in need. Ask and see if your city does that, and if not, you could always start one informally or ask the FRG about hosting something with families in the military.

There are so many ways to make the holidays unique and yet with a bit of the home you may be missing. Remember that it’s all about traditions, and that’s one of the best things – when you’re on your own, you get to start ones that might be carried on for generations to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!