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How to Be Happy and Thankful Despite a Different Type of Thanksgiving

As military spouses, we are resilient, strong, and adaptable. Facing the holidays away from extended family, or perhaps with a loved one on deployment, forces us to draw on these attributes even more than usual. This year, the holidays look different for everyone, and military families are no exception. So, how do we make the most of Thanksgiving by focusing on being happy and thankful despite the circumstances in which we find ourselves?

Keep Traditions Intact

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. Take this time to reflect on family traditions you may have enjoyed in the past. Keep them intact for your family this year despite where you are and how you can celebrate. Perhaps there is a favorite dish or recipe that symbolizes the meaning of this holiday for you. Make it, share with your children, and explain why it means something to you. Is there an activity that you can share with your children that was fun for you as a child during Thanksgiving? Was it a tradition around the dinner table? Perhaps you loved watching football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Did your family play a specific game or bake together in the kitchen?

If you don’t have one favorite tradition from the past, create a new one of your own. Make it something fun and ask the kids for input as well. Who says Thanksgiving has to have turkey, potatoes, and pie? Is there a family movie you can all watch together that will be part of your holiday for years to come?

Utilize Technology

This year has meant a lot of screen and television time. Yet, it has also brought much connectivity. Spending Thanksgiving away from loved ones and family when we are most thankful for those is extremely difficult. Instead of focusing on being away, connect with loved ones online. Set up a time to share a meal or play a game together in a virtual format. Technology is fantastic as it allows us to be together despite being apart.

Time zones can be tricky but think of it as starting a new holiday tradition and schedule a video call to see a particular member of the family. A quick online search can result in several ways to create a game specifically for your family that all can play online together. Jeopardy and online trivia are just a couple of ideas.

What Are You Thankful For?

What does Thanksgiving genuinely mean to you? What are you most thankful for this year in particular? Consider starting a daily gratitude journal for November and share it with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day.

Create “I am thankful for___” cards and use them at the Thanksgiving dinner table as a way to generate conversation while giving thanks. Younger children in the family may love making a craft to show what they are thankful for this year.

Despite the year 2020 has been, there are still many bountiful blessings. Time spent with family both near and far, the slower pace of the world, and the ability to pause and reflect on what is most important are just a few. Take this Thanksgiving to count the many blessings in your life, despite the difficulties of a military lifestyle and a global pandemic.