Thanksgiving When We Don’t Feel Like It

5 things to do when a deployment separates you from a loved one over the holidays.

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Posted in , Nov 25, 2014

Thanksgiving during a deployment. Photo by Alliance, Thinkstock.

It’s hard to be thankful when we find ourselves in difficult situations. That’s never more true than when you’re dealing with the separation of a deployment that spans the holidays.

I learned just how hard that was when our son was deployed during the holidays. Today I’d like to share some ways to encourage thanksgiving when we don’t feel like it.

Coping with the holidays during a deployment. Photo by Alliance, Thinkstock.1. Pack a time capsule.
It’s normal to feel sad when someone we love can’t be with us. But one way to alleviate that is to look forward to the time when we’re back together.

We can encourage that anticipation by capturing some of the holidays to share when they’re home. You can include holiday cards and photos. Don’t forget recipes you want to share, holiday ornaments and decorations. Anything that forges a connection would be good to include.

2. Reach out to someone else.
When we’re feeling sad, it helps to take the focus off ourselves. The best way to do that is to serve someone else. For example, if you normally have a family-filled Thanksgiving, consider spending part of the day serving lunch at a homeless shelter.

3. Make a list of things to be thankful for.
For me, it was the fact that we could connect with our son through the Internet. It wasn’t as good as his being here, but so much better than what families had in years past.

4. Take some time for yourself.
This feels like the height of selfishness, but in truth it’s about being healthy. If we don’t take care of ourselves–and that includes pampering–we won’t be able to support our loved one who’s serving.

5. Begin planning the weeks after homecoming.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a big party. A lot of veterans don’t want a big bash. Instead think of smaller things you can do together, and as a family.

Don’t forget to include some viewing time for popular television shows and movies. Although many soldiers have access to these, it’s still fun to revisit them together.

6. Put together a series of letters and/or packages to send one after another.
One package is great, but one a day for several days in a row is even better. The same is true for letters. We spend so much time communicating digitally, we can neglect the joy a physical letter brings.

What other tips do you have to add? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

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