By Kristin Bentley
Over the years, my husband and I have spent many holidays apart as he’s been deployed or away training. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s not always about celebrating on the actual day as it is about simply celebrating. Whether it’s days, weeks or even months in advance.
This year, we will be celebrating Father’s Day twice since my husband will be training in Eastern Washington while three of our boys fly in for their summer visits. My two sons, from a previous marriage, arrive this weekend and my stepson flies down from Alaska at the end of the month, several weeks before my husband returns home. Since we won’t have everyone together to celebrate at one time, we decided to give my husband a double celebration.
Father’s Day is a time to let that special dad in your life know how much you appreciate their love and support. But each year thousands of deployed military dads are unable to spend Father’s Day with their loved ones. While deployment is an expected part of military life, it can be especially difficult for families during holidays like Father’s Day.The best way to get through the holiday is to try and stay connected.
There’s nothing more special to a deployed dad than a care package, and although time is tight, you can still put together a special gift to show him how much he’s loved. I realize that the times for getting packages overseas can vary greatly, but from experience, I can assure you that he will be happy to be celebrated even if the package is a little early or a little late.
There are so many creative Father’s Day gift ideas, but here are a few of my favorites:
Theme-Inspired Care Packages
I always decorate my husband’s care packages with a fun theme, such as movie night. In every box, I always send a taste of home, whether it be with handmade cards featuring painted kids’ handprints or his favorite homemade snacks.
Remember that shipping homemade food is a risky endeavor, you never know if it’ll show up fresh and intact. If you’re going to go that route, just make sure it’s well packed. You don’t have to worry as much with pre-packed food from the store, but either option is sure to make him feel closer to home and boost his spirits.
Flat-rate boxes are available at your local post office for free. When shipping to an APO/FPO/DPO, large flat rate boxes only cost $15.90. Find the step-by-step military mail guide here.
Etsy features many great handmade original ideas, that any father would love.
Be sure to include a wide variety of photos and get your kids involved. One idea I like is to have your kids hold up homemade signs with special messages. Give them creative freedom and see what they come up with. Dad will appreciate the love and support, and you get to spend time working on a fun arts and crafts project as a family.
Operation: Love Reunited is a non-profit organization that offers free photography sessions to families of a deployed soldier. Request a free session here.
If you’re a busy mom who is pressed for time, like most of us, this option really is as easy as clicking on your favorite option and purchasing. Check out these clever crates that will surely spoil your hero ().
Your favorite dad will really appreciate anything handwritten by you and your kiddos. You can never go wrong with gifts from the heart!
Koreen Potocki, an Army wife stationed at Fort Stuart, GA, says her two boys each make a homemade card to send their dad, which they enjoy doing as much as her husband enjoys receiving them. Amy Trimble, who is preparing for a PCS this summer from Fort Lewis, WA, to Washington D.C.,, says she and her two kids will eat dinner at her husband’s favorite restaurant to honor him on his special day.
As we plan ahead to make the day special for our husbands, it’s important to include the kids in the process so that they are able to celebrate too. Kids already feel Dad’s absence every day, but they feel it even more when Dad is away on Father’s Day. When it comes down to it, it’s all about being thoughtful and doing something to show him that you care. The gifts don’t matter nearly as much as spending time together as a family.
No matter where Dad may be, I hope it is the best day that it can possibly be for your entire family. Happy Fathers Day!
Kristin Bentley, a mom of 6, also writes for Military Spouse magazine and founded RealArmyWives.org, a support network for today’s Army wife. Before her husband was re-assigned from Fort Benning to Fort Lewis, WA, she was the editor of the Infantry Bugler, the National Infantry Association’s official magazine.