It's that time of year again: Valentine's Day -- the day everyone (whether they want to admit it or not) expects their significant other to do something special to show their love is swiftly approaching.
Deployments or TDYs can make marking the occasion especially tricky. But newsflash! Living in a combat zone or holding down the homefront solo probably isn't going to get you out of this one.
Lucky for you we have come up with a few ways for service members and spouses alike to give Valentine's Day its due from a world apart (and even one way not to, if you insist):
1. Open Care Packages via FaceTime
Most service members today are stationed in places with reliable internet connections, and even those who aren't can likely access a phone line for a few minutes. If you are able, service members, wait until you can call your partner to open any care packages they may have sent. Spouses: wait until he calls to open any gifts.
If at all possible, do all of this face to face via a video chat service. Saying "I love you" means so much more if you can see the other person's face.
2. Downrange: It's Not Too Late to Send Flowers
Did you see the title of this post and think "Oh crap. I totally forgot about Valentine's Day?" Well, don't worry. It won't really be too late to order flower delivery until Feb. 14 Afghanistan time (although companies will not necessarily 100% guarantee Valentine's Day delivery if you wait that long). My advice: order them now.
You can still order most other gifts, too, if you are willing to pay extra for the speedy shipping. I've yet to meet a gal who will say "no" to jewelry or something from Victoria's Secret.
3. Home Front: Host a Valentine's Day Party for Your Girlfriends
Chances are you're not the only spouse feeling the lonely sting of deployment this Valentine's Day. Why not host a chick-flick movie night with calorie-laden snacks or organize a guy's night out on the town at Top Golf? Swap "how I met my service member" stories with your friends or share the top five things you love about your spouse.
And, please, pass those chocolates this way.
4. Make it International
Americans are the only ones who celebrate Valentine's Day and giving this year's celebration an international flare may be just the thing your relationship needs. Consider celebrating like they do in Ghana and make it all about chocolate. Or maybe with a wine tasting, like the Bulgarians. Whichever way you celebrate, we should all take the time to thank Saint Valentine for going against the grain and marrying young soldiers against the ruling of Claudius II.
5. Ignore it Completely
This is my preferred method of "celebration" ... if by "celebration" you mean "doing your best to pretend it doesn't exist." Call me crazy, but in my opinion, there's something to be said for treating every day like Valentine's Day. (I do admit, however, to having a special love for Valentine's Day candy.)
Are you having trouble convincing your spouse to get on board with the "just ignore it" plan? It may be something you need to bring up after the holiday for next year. For others -- how about distracting him with video games? (No, really.) If they're downrange? Try pretending the day simply doesn't exist. They are in a combat zone -- if you don't bring it up, they probably won't either. But it's worth a conversation.
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