Celebrating Thanksgiving As a Military Family
Military Life

Different Types of Typical Thanksgiving Dinners for Military Families

Thanksgiving can be a big nightmare for military families in every way. It can bring emotional, mental and physical stress due to the erratic work schedules, deployment, and separations. I certainly can tell you from experience as I have lived through many already!

Therefore, Thanksgiving for military families can be quite different from how the average American celebrates the holiday.

Read also: The True Face of Military Marriage – What It Really Looks Like

Below are different types of Thanksgiving dinners are typical for military families:

We are ‘in Love but Isolated’ Thanksgiving

Military newlyweds find out how isolated they really are from their friends and family when Thanksgiving rolls around.

However, once they remember that they have each other for the holiday, then they can get creative with one another and plan for a beautifully romantic Thanksgiving evening.

When my husband and I had our first Thanksgiving together, I was sad to be away from my family and friends but we cherished the time together as that also wasn’t and isn’t something that I can ever take for granted.

Thanksgiving Solo

Of course, there would be Thanksgivings when my husband would be deployed and I would be celebrating the holiday solo.

So what I have done during those times?

I celebrated Thanksgiving with him via Skype by eating a meal, or I treat Thanksgiving like any other day and just forget that it is a holiday.

Or I would even celebrate it on my own. Either way, that is the most lonely Thanksgiving that I have experienced along with other military families.

‘I Wish I Stayed Home’ Kind of Thanksgiving

At the time you were thrilled beyond belief that hubby was able to secure Thanksgiving leave, and then you anxiously and excitedly packed your bags, dealt with the crazy airport crowds just to go home to spend Thanksgiving with your family.

Yeah well, you may have forgotten about the family tension from previous holidays spent with families. Then you regret going, and you wish you went back home to spend a quiet evening without the family drama in the picture.

If you were able to see that coming and remembered clearly the squabbles that went on in the past, then you would not have wanted to go through the bother!

A Spring Thanksgiving

If you wanted to really spend the holiday with your family, then you would celebrate Thanksgiving sometime in the winter, spring or even summer – whenever the family would actually be able to get together and celebrate. Usually, spring is the best time to celebrate Thanksgiving if the date is far away from Easter like in May.

That is can be when your husband can take the time off to spend time with families, and you can always get turkey, stuffing, and the works even when it is offseason. Or you can improvise and have burgers and fries instead and celebrate Thanksgiving that way.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to military families, our times together are limited whether my husband is deployed or when we are unable to connect with our families. The only way to have Thanksgiving is to improvise and to make adjustments so we can still celebrate the holiday, even in a non-traditional way.


How does your military family celebrate Thanksgiving? Feel free to email me at stephanie@militarytravelmama.com and I’ll be happy to include your experience – past or new!

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