I remember the first time I was invited to a Senior enlisted persons house for Thanksgiving. It was my first year in the Navy and some of my fellow shipmates were invited too. However, I don’t think we were invited because that E-5 had a generous heart rather, many senior enlisted were encouraged to invite us newbies over so that we weren’t alone in the barracks.
A couple of other girls and I did go, but for various reasons I didn’t feel comfortable. His rank was superior so we felt reluctant to open up and let loose, their lifestyle was very different than ours so we weren’t connecting well, and we really just wanted to eat and leave.
After 20 years in the Navy I have some good ideas on how we can show love and concern to our single military members that live on base or on the ship. The best part is that many of them don’t involve hosting a huge get together. You’ll find out later why that’s NOT a bad thing.
What’s something we can offer them that they would love and appreciate? Here are some ideas to consider to help you support your fellow American while they’re away from home.
1. RESEARCH: Ask your spouse or another point of contact (POC) to find out how many troops are not going home and will be alone for the holidays. (Not for the entire base, that would be impossible. Just one command).
2. TAKE FOOD TO THEM: Many people don’t want to come to a stranger’s house so you can buy these Rubbermaid food containers, fill them up with items from your dinner and take them over. Make sure to include disposable flatware, plates, napkins, and a drink. Oh and don’t forget dessert! A huge pumpkin pie is less than $6 at Costco. This is fun for the entire family, especially the kids. Kids love taking care of others
3. HOST THEM OVER TO YOUR HOUSE: If you do invite them over to your home, go out of way to make them the honored guest.
~Some ways you can do this are:
- Have a chalkboard that says welcome with their names specifically on it.
- Give them a different colored plate and tell them your special guests always eat from these.
- Make the environment very comfortable and ensure they’re actively part of all the festivities.
4. GIVE A GIFT: Lastly, before Thanksgiving, you could make a gift basket with gift cards to Boston Market, a local grocery store, a DVD, and of course an entire pie. If you really want to go the extra mile, go to Home Goods and buy an inexpensive but cozy blanket. Roll it nice and tight with twine or ribbon around it and add it to the basket. This is ideal for guys/gals that feel more comfortable celebrating in their own space.
I hope this sparks some ideas and that you find a way to bless a Soldier or Sailor. Choose a way that doesn’t add stress to your life because we should be more interested in expressing rather than impressing. Love is an action and it’s a great time of year to show it. Happy Thanksgiving!!!
“Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13: 1-2 NIV)