It may be easier than you think to make Thanksgiving the best it can be in a new duty station.
Moving to a new duty station is always a stressful event for service members and their families. For those who are slated to do their moving during the December PCS Season, this may mean planning for Thanksgiving and the other winter holidays in a totally new town, which may be far away from family and friends.
Although military families are famously flexible and well-prepared to handle all types of challenges, potentially skipping out on holiday traditions can put a real damper on an otherwise fun time of year.
Here are a few ideas for brightening up a family holiday – no matter where a family is or who is sitting around the dinner table.
Incorporate Local Traditions and Flavors into Cooking
If you’re moving to a new area of the country (or the world!) researching and incorporating local traditions and flavors can be a great way to start making a new place feel more like home. The hunt for ideas is a fun activity that can get the younger members of the family involved too. If you’re looking for a little less work, make your traditional dinner and visit a bakery for a local favorite dessert!
Volunteering together as a family is one of the very best ways you can teach compassion and understanding to the younger generation and bring everyone together. The bonus effect of volunteerism is it gets you out into the community, meeting people and learning things about your new environment. Everybody wins.
Leave Small Gifts for Neighbors
Another great way to get into the spirit of giving for the holidays and reaching out to your community is by leaving small gifts for your new neighbors. You can enlist the help of your kids to make homemade wreaths, cookies or other tokens of friendship and then use them as an excuse to introduce yourself. Family and friends left behind are certainly not replaceable, but you’ll be well on your way to making new ones.
Set up Skype Dates
The ability to catch up with loved ones online is truly one of the best things about being a modern military family. Make the effort to set up appointments to Skype or Facetime and go into the meeting with a plan! Have dessert together, help the kids coordinate a small performance or join in on your favorite family tradition – you’re never too far away with technology.
Try Something New
Do a little research on the best local activities and sign the family up! You could visit a favorite local park before Thanksgiving dinner, watch an evening tree lighting – or whatever interesting activity is new and unique to your new home. You’ll be that much closer to making new beloved traditions.
Visit Local Shops
Visiting local stores helps in two ways – you support local merchants and you get yourself out the door! Look for local black Friday sales, talk to store owners for inside tips and make sure you don’t miss out on local action.
Invite Bachelor Service Members Over for Dinner
If you have the heart to set an extra place at your Thanksgiving dinner table, you’re well on your way to making your holiday special. Ask around your command to find bachelor service members with no where to go. You’ll make new friends, do a good deed and have the chance to ask someone new about the area.
Find a new place of worship
Finding a new worship community for Thanksgiving and other holiday services is many families’ favorite way to plant new roots. Start researching and giving new spots a try.