Making the Best of Thanksgiving When Away From Home

It’s no surprise that a PCS or TDY can happen any time of year, even during the holidays. Being far from the comforts of home can be tough on the entire family unit, but there is always a way to find that tiny glimmer of happiness.

What can you do when away during Thanksgiving? Below are a few tips to help you make the best of it with your military family.

Create a new tradition.

Milo Ventimiglia, also known as Jack Pearson, from This is Us, gave some great insight on making the most of family time during the holidays in Season 1, Episode 8. Maybe his military service helped him see the value of spending the holidays with family despite it not being picture perfect. When the Pearsons were stranded on Thanksgiving and missing out on all the usual festivities, Jack saved the day and created new traditions that included; Pilgrim Rick, Police Academy 3, and Thanksgiving cheese dogs. We can take this scenario and Jack’s fearless resilience into consideration when military life has us on the move during the holidays.

Find the comforts of home.

By staying in a crash pad, instead of temp lodging, you’ll be able to cook your feast in a real kitchen. You can even decorate, watch the parade on a big television, and have a yard to play football after the meal. The comforts of home are waiting for you at a crash pad. If you don’t want to cook, several restaurants are open on Thanksgiving. Try to find a place that carries the comfort foods your family enjoys the most. The simple luxury of familiar foods can help you and your family ease through the holidays.

Understand that you are not alone.

My husband and I spent our very first Thanksgiving together as a married couple moving into our new home. That was the third time we had moved within a ten month period. While we missed spending the holiday with our family, we made the best of it by picking up food to go from the cafeteria on the installation. They had a special Thanksgiving feast and it was amazing! We were under stress from moving, but when we went to grab our to-go plates, we were met with tremendous kindness. We also noticed that we were not the only ones grabbing food to go, so it didn’t seem so bad after all. Although I missed my aunt’s famous collards and a table lined with every dessert imaginable, the food we ate from the hospital cafeteria was delicious! Being able to spend Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones is the biggest blessing of all.

Cherish the moment, even if it isn’t what you expected.

If there is anything military life teaches us, it is that every moment spent together is precious. Soak in the times you are side by side with your family, especially during the holidays. While it may not be exactly picture perfect, nor how you planned it, Thanksgiving is more about family and togetherness than anything. So give each other a group hug and make some new memories for the books.

Wherever military life has taken you this year, our wish is that you will be able to find the silver lining to make the holidays as wonderful as possible. Create new traditions, cherish your time together, and make the best of it because, after all, military life tends to bring with it an unexpected journey full of surprises.


Written by Wendi Iacobello

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