We love having an ‘Open Door’ for the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s my favorite part of military life and one of the traditions I’ve been able to continue on from childhood. My father always had people at our holiday table who couldn’t go home and I looked forward to our special and surprise guests every year.
In our house, around September I start pestering my husband to find people who aren’t going home for the holidays. I ask him almost daily until October, then I lay it on really thick. I don’t want a single soul sitting in a dorm room or eating fast food on the holidays.
When we were overseas, it turned into a Christmas cookout due to the tropical weather. We had a houseful of families, couples and singles. The sun was shining, the deck furniture was part of the holiday table and the palm trees added a very Christmas-like decor. One thing I missed was that I couldn’t order my “roast beast.” I’m a sides queen, but the main course should not be left up to me.
Our prior base was stateside and I could order it there. That thing could feed a small army, and it has! For that ‘Open Door’ we had a Thanksgiving that I’m hoping the guests still remember. Since we were mil-to-mil at the time, we had two squadrons from which to invite. Our base housing was large. Dining room, breakfast nook with large table, living room, and we even used our garage. Threw down a rug, cracked open some long tables, and set up a TV for football out there. Dining area number four!
I had the “roast beast” and a ham shipped in. People brought sides and desserts. Our house was bursting with people and it felt great! There’s nothing like seeing a young service member enjoy their holiday time and realize this is one of those military family moments they’d always heard about.
I managed to find out about a few stragglers who were waiting to go snowboarding with some of our guests. They were milling about in town waiting for them and had eaten their turkey in the dining hall. I gave their friends ‘the eye’ and they promptly called them up to the house. My husband and I didn’t know them at all but we put plates in their hands and showed them the ‘buffet’. They dug in and also gave their friends ‘the eye’ for holding out on them. (smile)
Some bases have ‘adopt a ___’ programs and we participated in that the last time we opened our home for Thanksgiving. We had two males and though they had to stay in uniform (training), our kids and then teen son made them feel comfortable. Video games, food, and relaxing. I love looking back on those pictures.
No 'Open Door' this year for us due to deployment, but I hope the service members around the world who want and need a place to go get their wish. If you’ve never experienced opening your door for the holidays to your brother/sister members or civilians, give it a shot. You and your family will receive so much more than you give.