The unpredictability of the Military lifestyle often presents a challenge when celebrating major holidays like Thanksgiving. Whether they’re station far from home, have just moved to a new base, or are separated due to deployment, Military Families often celebrate Thanksgiving in a new way each year that are often just as enjoyable as their family’s time-honored traditions. Below are 5 common Thanksgiving celebrations for members of the Military Community.

1. On-Base Thanksgiving

No need to stress about resources or a guest list, all branches of the Military offer Thanksgiving Day meals to Active Duty personnel, Veterans, and their families. For a small fee, you can enjoy a full feast with your on-base family without having to worry about preheating the oven or basting the turkey. This is an especially great option for junior personnel who may be away from the home for the first time.

2. Veterans Thanksgiving

If you’re a veteran who misses the camaraderie of Military holiday celebrations, most Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts offer free Thanksgiving meals for members and guests. These celebrations can help Veterans connect with your local Military Community, and are a good opportunity for civilians looking to give back by donating food or serving meals.

3. New-to-Base Thanksgiving

The first holiday season at a new base can be intimidating. You may still be unpacking, making friends, and getting to know the area, but don’t let that hold you back from celebrating. Take your new friend up on joining their dinner or offer to host yourself. It may seem awkward inviting a bunch of people you just over for a holiday centered on family, but so many Military Families are in the same boat as you and will readily accept the invitation.

4. Deployment Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving season without your servicemember spouse may not feel much like a holiday at all but think of it as an opportunity to create a new tradition. Some Military Families will enjoy dinner together over Skype while other choose to skip the holiday altogether, and go to the movies or on a day trip, instead. You can even reschedule your Thanksgiving for when your family is back together.

5. Military Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving is what takes place after you’ve been on base for a year or two and have grown close to other servicemembers and Military Families there. Rather than spending the holiday feeling homesick, you join together with your on-base friends who have become like family for a potluck feast.

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