Celebrating the middle of a deployment was a completely new idea to me during my first deployment on the homefront. I quickly learned it was an event I would look forward to during coming deployments. It was a night filled with spouses going through the same experience as me, suddenly I felt less alone and more connected. During that first Half Way Night celebration I experienced a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling of relief, and could begin to see a light at the end of the long deployment tunnel.
The tradition of “Half Way Night” for our family indeed resembles celebrating a major milestone, involving food, friends, a yummy desert and more importantly the telling of stories both of successes and defeats that got us to this point. For example, there was the time I had loads and loads of bubbles all over my kitchen floor because I forgot to never EVER put dishwashing soap in the dishwasher!
Your command might plan a Half Way Night celebration through your Family Readiness Group (FRG). You’ll want to check in with your FRG leaders to see what is on the calendar. You might even consider helping in the planning process.
Keep in mind Half Way Night celebrations can vary by FRG and are not mandatory to attend. You may also opt to celebrate with a close group of friends. Here are some ideas to mark the occasion:
Half Way Night Celebration on the Homefront
- Through your FRG plan several fundraisers to cover or help offset the costs of a nice dinner. During one underway, we planned an event at a nearby resort. Spouses in attendance were treated to a fabulous 5-star experience. We played games, had door prizes and watched a video we had prearranged with the boat to make with “I love you” messages from our Sailors. The video was highlight of the evening.
- Invite the spouses and kids in your unit together for a family night in and make it pot-luck style. With everyone sharing the cooking duties, no one feels the burden for cooking for a large group. Plan games for the kids and set up a homecoming banner craft station. Keep it positive and fun.
- Plan any small gesture of love by coordinating with the deployed spouses. This could mean a rose and a love note, a group video as mentioned before, or even a greeting card (either store bought or homemade) for each of the spouses in attendance. This does take some creative thinking, advance planning and a few husbands willing to help coordinate on the deployed end, but in the end it will create some of the most cherished memories.
These are just three ideas to get you started.
In an upcoming article I’ll highlight my top tips for what to send in a Half Way Night care package!
I’d love to hear from experienced spouses who have been through several deployments. Please share your ideas for celebrating Half Way Night in the comments section, I can’t wait to read your suggestions!