Salute to Spouses Blog

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Still thankful for the military after all these years

Know what I miss most about the military today?


Chow hall Thanksgiving!


I might be dating myself with that name for the on-post Dining Facility, and maybe even with this whole post.


This is our second Thanksgiving after official retirement from the military, and our third if you include the one while my spouse was on terminal leave.


When he was still active duty and we were stationed overseas, we often traveled for the long weekend. Skiing in in the Alps, pasta for dinner in Rome or a museum in Prague were our norm. And if we happened to stay home, we went to a Christmas market or other local traditional event to mark the start of the holiday season.


Stateside (and sometimes overseas, too), we almost always went to Thanksgiving dinner at the DFAC, especially when my husband was deployed. It was a “family” affair, with our neighbors, friends and battle buddies. My kids still remember Thanksgiving at Ft. Riley, Kansas, where there were pony rides, crafts and a huge dessert table. Like them, just about every kid in attendance had a parent deployed.


Our first “after-the-Army” Thanksgiving happened in Houston while we were traveling the U.S. in our RV. In a last-minute stroke of luck, good friends of ours, also recently retired from the military and also traveling in their RV, were in Houston that weekend, too. We arranged to stay next to each other at the same campground, and pooled our resources for the Turkey Day feast.


We grilled a turkey breast and made mashed potatoes in the crockpot, and stuffing and sweet potatoes in the oven. Our friends, meanwhile, cooked a brisket, roasted vegetables and made a tiramisu for dessert.

We ate outside, drank wine and chatted the evening away.


Last year, we were in the midst of unpacking our new house here in Florida, and still in recovery mode from Hurricane Irma. We drove three hours across the state to my mother-in-law’s house in our hometown, the turkey and all the fixins pre-cooked and in a cooler in the back of the car. I couldn’t remember the last time we had spent a holiday with her.


We ate, drank wine and chatted the evening away.


This year? We’re going to enjoy a nice, quiet day at home, just the four of us. We’ll cook, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, flick the channels between football games, and start decking the halls.


We’ll enjoy the peacefulness of the day, the time together as a family, and the first Thanksgiving in our home here.


We’ll reflect on what we’re thankful for, and think about holidays past.


We’ll probably drink some wine and chat the evening away.


We’ll make more new memories in this new life.


We’re creating new traditions with every post-retirement holiday, especially now that we are entering our third year. Honestly, I can’t even believe it’s been that long. Sometimes, it seems like just yesterday that we were still an active-duty military family. Other times, it feels like a lifetime ago.


For the most part we’ve adjusted to retirement, a new hometown, new school, new friends … new everything.


We’re all together. We see each other every day, eat dinner together most evenings and spend the weekends as a family. There are no PCS orders to wait for, no Blackberry going off every hour, no deployment hanging over our heads


That’s what I’m most thankful for.

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