My first Thanksgiving in the army was spent at the Dfac (or Dining Facility for those of you who don't speak Army). I'd been without my husband for what was the longest time in our marriage up to that point...nine weeks. I was so grateful to be with him, I glossed over not being home with my family to celebrate the holiday around a table filled with food, love, and gratitude.
The next Thanksgiving, my husband was five months into a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. Instead of going home, I stayed in Colorado to celebrate the holiday with other army spouses. Although the food was good and I loved the people gathered around the table, I ached for what I didn't have...my husband, my children, my mom and dad, my sister and brother along with their spouses and children. My entire family gets along really well. We look forward to seeing each other and always bemoan that it's not more often. To miss one of the days we make a special effort to gather together hurt my heart.
Several Thanksgiving holidays passed, almost all of them tinged with regret, but God was working to turn my head and heart away from what wasn't to what is. Last year, we hosted a number of single men who didn't go home for Thanksgiving (there just aren't enough days off to really make it worth the trip). I spent the day focused on being a blessing to them, and they filled my heart to bursting with their gratitude. Yesterday, as I was preparing stuffing and apple pie ahead of time, I realized I was excited--actually excited--about Thanksgiving.
It took seven years, but Thanks be to God for making it happen. I will not dwell on how long it took me to get here, nor will I compare my grieving process to those who have lost significantly more than I. Today, I will simply be grateful that I'm here...that my heart rejoices in what is my new Thanksgiving tradition.
Thanks be to God for