My husband has spent many a Thanksgiving underwater.
Being a submariner, duty doesn’t stop for holidays. So he’s deployed for so many turkey days – eating government issued stuffing and cranberry sauce with his fellow shipmates – that I often lose count.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; I love food, and I love my family.
I have a series of rather sad photos, commemorating our Thanksgivings, most of which he is missing in.
And, sure, it’s sad.
He hates missing us over the family-themed holiday. He hates missing my scanning of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads. He doesn’t like missing the day after Turkey Day, where we decorate the Christmas tree and hang lights outside our house.
But, if we really probed, we would find there is something else he missed even more than all that.
When we got married almost a decade ago, and my husband spent his first Thanksgiving with my family, he ate, for the very first time, my mother’s corn pudding.
It’s one of those easy hacks on a box of Jiffy cornbread mix. You add several forms of high-fat dairy products, mix it together, and bake it.
And it tastes like anything heavily laden with butter and cream; it’s delicious.
Since my marriage, every Thanksgiving in which my husband has been home, we have had to triple the corn pudding recipe.
The man loves it. Adores it. Easily eats a whole pan himself, and he almost weeps when the leftovers are gone.
So, during every deployment since that illustrious meeting between my husband and corn pudding, he has gotten misty-eyed knowing he’s missing it.
He misses us and the holiday and a million other things. But truth be told, I think he misses the corn pudding more.
So two years ago, when he was gearing up to miss yet another Corn Pudding, er, Turkey Day, I packed him a little surprise in his sea bag.
I sent him several boxes of Jiffy corn pudding mix and the recipe for his favorite Thanksgiving side dish.
And on that underwater holiday, he snuck onto the submarine kitchen, borrowed some dairy products, and made the crew an additional side dish for Thanksgiving dinner; he made corn pudding.
Back home, even though we had no contact on that holiday, I smiled.
I knew he was eating what I was eating. And I knew he was loving it.
It made that Thanksgiving special for us both.
And now, when he deploys over the holidays, he never leaves home without a recipe and a few boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix.
It’s our Thanksgiving Day tradition. And as much as I would rather have him here, I wouldn’t have it any other way.