It’s that time of year again: Valentine's Day – the day every female (whether she wants to admit it or not) expects their significant other to do something special to show their love, and every male inevitably forgets – 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 servicememebers 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 Skype (or Phone)
Most servicemembers today are probably 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, servicemembers, wait until you buzz your spouse or girlfriend to open any carepackages she may have sent. Spouses: wait until he calls to open any gifts.
If at all possible, do all of this face to face via Skype or another video chat service. Saying "I love you" means so much more if you can see the other person’s face.
Don’t know how to use Skype? Check out this fantastic Skype tutorial.
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 percent guarantee Valentine's Day delivery if you wait that long). My advice: order them now.
You can still order most other gifts, too, until Feb. 10 if you are willing to pay extra for speedy shipping. I've yet to meet a girl who will say "no" to jewlery 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 lady’s night out on the town for decedent desserts? Swap "how I met my servicemember" stories with your spouse friends or share the top five things you love about your spouse.
And, please, pass those chocolates this way.
4. Downrange: Celebrate Valentine's Day the Afghan Way
No, I don't mean by blowing something up – note I wrote "Afghan Way," not "Terrorist's Way," after all. According to this 2011 story, many Afghans last year took Valentine’s Day to Facebook where they sent messages to loved ones or debated whether or not Muslims should celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.
You can consider this your chance to discuss whether Valentine’s Day is just a lame “greeting card” holiday or something worth celebrating.
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).
Having trouble convincing your spouse to get on board with the "just ignore it" plan? For the fellas, now is probably not the time to bring it up. For the ladies – if he's home how about distracting him with video games? (No, really). If he's downrange? Try pretending the day simply doesn't exist. The man is in a combat zone – if you don't bring it up, he probably won't either. But take this article's advice:
Tell yourself it's just another day - because it is. Obviously it is. Valentine's Day is ridiculous, and most people are in on the joke. You don't have to play if you don't want to, but going out of your way to be sour about it is just ... it's tired. And people will secretly roll their eyes behind your back.