Hard to believe Thanksgiving 2019 is here, isn’t it?
If you’re a military spouse, it may be even harder to realize you won’t share this holiday with your service member.
Whether they’re deployed, scheduled for duty, or on a special assignment, you probably already know if they won’t be home for Turkey Day.
While it’s tough to do holidays without your service member, it can still be fun. They want you to enjoy the day, even if they’re away. If your family is far away, too, don’t give up on celebrating Thanksgiving just yet.
Below you’ll find a list of 11 ways to celebrate Thanksgiving 2019 with gratitude.
When You’ve Got a Few Friends Nearby For Thanksgiving…
If your family is far and your service member is gone, it’s helpful to get through the holiday with friends who can relate. Reach out to your military friends this week and see what they’ve got planned for Thanksgiving. They may be glad you called to ask.
If they’ve got nothing, ask them to join you to:
Is there a nearby town you’ve been wanting to explore? Or perhaps you’re adventurous and want to book the cheapest flight to wherever. If you know fellow spouses or military families who enjoy traveling, ask them to go with you. It can even be as simple as a staycation at a military-friendly resort. Just go!
Enjoy the great outdoors to fight the blues of being separated from your service member. Studies show time outdoors and in green spaces improves mood. Visit a local garden or park. Snowy weather? Invite your closest friends to go sledding, snowshoeing, or skiing. You’ll burn calories and can plan to indulge in a hot Thanksgiving meal later.
Host a Friendsgiving Celebration
When you’re far from family, it’s hard to get excited about cooking a meal alone. Invite friends over for a Friendsgiving meal. Ask everyone — neighbors, military group friends, church friends, etc. — to bring their favorite dish. If you’re lucky and your service member’s unit, platoon, or ship is home for the holiday, host a meal with your favorite military couples to create your own “family” experience for Thanksgiving.
Sign-up for a Local Walk or Run
Most cities have a local Turkey Trot event for walkers and runners to participate in. Sign up with friends who love to workout outdoors. Too late to sign up? Show up anyway and cheer runners on along the way. They’ll appreciate your encouragement. It’s hard to frown when you’re cheering others on!
Host a Care Package Party
If your service member is gone, invite fellow spouses or significant others over for a party. You can host a Friendsgiving meal (see above) and afterward package up goodies to send to your deployed loved one. Check out Pinterest for “pie in a jar” recipes to make and send off their favorite Thanksgiving and/or Christmas pie.
When You’re Alone…
There’s no need to sit inside all day long. It’s okay — and normal — to miss your service member and family. Staying inside and moping isn’t a fun way to spend the day. Instead, get out and interact with others in a positive way. Or, enjoy the quality down-time to yourself.
A few ideas to get you started:
If you’ve recently moved to your base and don’t know anyone, consider heading out for the day to volunteer. Helping others is reward enough to change out of your pj’s and get out of the house for the day. Not sure where to volunteer? Local churches, soup kitchens, animal shelters, and nursing homes all love to have extra volunteers on hand. Check out VolunteerMatch to find your ideal volunteering position!
Now that you have the day off, you can finally catch up on your letter writing. Whether you send it via the Sandboxx app or handwrite it, don’t forget to let your service member know how much you appreciate them. After all, it is Thanksgiving! Have a lot of time? Ask for addresses of others serving and write to them, too. Kids can write or create artwork during this time as well.
Call in for a Family Meal
If you’re close with your family, but you can’t make it home for the holiday, find out what time they plan to eat dinner. Whip up your own Thanksgiving meal beforehand, then call or Facetime in during or after the meal. It will make you feel like you’re back at home!
Have a Spa Day
Some spas may be open on Thanksgiving, but if you can’t find an available booking, plan a day of relaxation at home. Sleep in, eat comfort foods, wear a fuzzy robe all day, all while listening to soothing music in the background while your favorite candle burns. At the end of the day — or anytime, really — take a nice, long, hot soak in the tub.
Watch the Macy’s Day Parade
It’s not Thanksgiving without watching the famous Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade. Founded in 1924, this parade is touted as one of the world’s largest parades. It’s broadcast live each year as the parade route snakes through downtown New York City. Have kids who won’t sit still? Create your own parade. Take your route through the house or outside, if you want!
Have you been avoiding a certain task? Put yourself to work — and keep your mind busy — by tackling it. That overstuffed linen closet. The pile of paperwork in your filing cabinet. The kitchen junk drawer. Make a list of tasks you’ve been “meaning to” tackle. Then turn on your favorite playlist and get to it!
Thanksgiving 2019 Doesn’t Have to Be A Bummer
Military life takes you all sorts of ways. Most of the time it takes you away from your home base for the holidays. Or, it keeps your service member away for the most exciting holidays.
Either way, you don’t have to let your Thanksgiving this year be a downer. Instead, look at the opportunities to enrich your holiday in a new way.
And, if someone invites you somewhere, by all means, go! It will get you out of your head and out of the house. Before you know it, the day will be over and you’ll have a grateful heart knowing others care about you.
We hope you’ll find an exciting way to enjoy Thanksgiving this year with new friends, old friends, or even by yourself. You might even find whatever you do this year becomes a tradition that you can enjoy every Thanksgiving.
From all of us here at Sandboxx, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving no matter how you spend it!
How do you plan to spend Thanksgiving 2019? We’d love to hear your creative ideas in the comments below!