The challenges of military life mean that holidays are often spent alone, separated from the significant other serving in the military. Valentine’s Day is a holiday that has grown over the years to make the month about romance. The history of Valentine’s Day isn’t clear, but it was part of the Christian and Roman celebrations as early as 270 AD. The day isn’t about remembering St. Valentine anymore and moved to Valentine messages being sent to friends beginning in the Middle Ages. The modern Valentine celebration is about fancy dinner, flowers, cards, and if you believe the commercials, sparkly jewelry. But is that what Valentine’s Day is truly about?
When the commercials have moved from the surprise car purchase for the holidays to all the chocolate and travel commercials, it signals the move to Valentine’s Day. Let’s be honest, Valentine’s candy was put up in the stores while the Christmas trees were still in the aisle over. With all the commercialization and visual images, it is hard to imagine spending Valentine’s Day alone, but that is the reality to many military spouses across the world. So what do you do?
Go It Alone
One way to jump into the holiday alone is to jump in it as just that. Plan a date for yourself. Do what you want to do to celebrate. No, your significant other won’t be there but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a self-care date to yourself. Order food that your significant other doesn’t like, rent or borrow a movie from the library that you like and make it a movie night in with your favorite nosh. Or maybe take yourself out. Eating alone isn’t lonely – you can bring a book or listen to an audiobook or just sit and people watch all while enjoying a meal at a local restaurant. Being alone isn’t lonely. Just because your significant other is serving or training elsewhere, doesn’t mean you aren’t loved and supported. You can enjoy a date night in or out for yourself to celebrate the day if you want to.
You can enjoy the holiday altogether. Get the kids together and make a plan for local adventure to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Maybe head to a local museum or zoo or garden and make it a family date. While your significant other may not be able to join, they will likely enjoy pictures of you and your family out and about enjoying where you live. If you really want to go all-in, consider getting a hotel stay for the weekend for you and the kids. If you have young children, look for a kid-friendly hotel with stools and lowered towel racks or separate sleeping quarters to help you have a relaxing time as well. If you have older children, consider looking for hotels with teen programming that will give them fun events to engage in.
Deployments and training exercises mean that there are multiple service members gone together and leaving their loved ones behind. This also means there is a network of significant others who will be celebrating Valentine’s Day alone. Considering making an event for everyone. You can make it adults only, or adults and kids as an event with crafts, snacks and activities. If you have your own circle of friends, gather them together and host an event – a lunch, dinner or movie! Break out the fancy china and goblets for your friends. Try out a recipe that you have been looking at, or order in. You can make of it what you like and you desire. It’s what you and your friends want it to be or make of it.
Maybe your significant other is in a location with the ability to virtually connect. If so, plan a date at a time that works for you both. Maybe virtually watch a movie together, or share a hot beverage with each other over FaceTime.
Or maybe your friends are now scattered across the world because of military life, and you can use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to connect everyone together. Virtually connect on a platform you can all use at a time that works. Share the favorite beverages or snacks you enjoy where you are living. It’s a fun time and an excuse to catch up with your friends.
While Valentine’s Day may have a “traditional” look, nothing about military life is traditional – embrace it and go with it! What will you do to celebrate this year?