Military life means deployments, field exercises, long hours, and unpredictable schedules, which translates to holidays spent differently than the commercials outline. There isn’t a cozy snuggle on the couch for a late-night movie because the service member has to pistol qual the next day. There isn’t a fancy dinner out because you are new to the area and don’t have trusted babysitters.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be what social media paints it to be. In fact, it will be quite different for the military family, and that’s okay.
When Your Significant Other Is Gone
If your significant other is not available for the day or evening, plan something special to do alone. Have your eye on a new restaurant, and consider heading out to dinner solo. Or avoid the inflated restaurant prices and create a relaxing day at home – perhaps with tea and treats, an at-home spa day with masks and foot soaks, or the ultimate movie marathon. Is something special in town, like a sports game or concert – there are no rules to say you can’t go out and enjoy it – it’s hard to be lonely when thousands of screaming fans surround you. Make a day date by heading out to a museum of interest or volunteering at local hospitals, homeless shelters, or soup kitchens. There is so much to do, and being alone doesn’t have to mean not going out and exploring.
Don’t want to go it alone? Make it a friend date? Chances are you aren’t the only one solo if your unit is deployed or on an exercise. Plan an outing that everyone can enjoy. Perhaps a game night at someone’s house or going out for karaoke or an escape room. Or maybe enjoy a spa day together with friends.
Plan a family date. Use family memberships to head to a museum in the area or park to celebrate the holiday together. Maybe splurge on a nearby theme park. While romantic love is what is shown in the commercials for the holiday, it doesn’t mean that the day is only about that – celebrate your family’s love by spending time together and building memories.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
Maybe there is an episode of a television show you have been saving to watch or a project you haven’t had the time to do. Use the holiday as a day to start it! Sign up for a class at the local community college for something you have always wanted to try – dance or ceramics, or computer coding. Use Valentine’s Day as the day to explore, and enjoy something new.
Don’t Forget Virtual Connections
Maybe your significant other military member is in a location with an internet connection, so why not schedule a virtual meet-up? If your service member isn’t available, schedule a meet-up with a friend who may not be stationed at your current duty station. It may be over breakfast in one location and dinner in the other, but it is time spent together.
Your frustrations with celebrating a holiday without your service member are valid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the day. Do not feel guilty for doing something new with friends or family or even solo.