The military offers spouses plenty of chances to be profoundly grateful. I don’t just mean being grateful for the direct deposit that shows up in your account on the first and the fifteenth.
I don’t just mean the appreciation you have for the doctor who looks into your child’s ears for the umpteenth time without a copayment. Or the way your service member doesn’t have to wear those birth control glasses anymore.
What brings on the thankfulness?I mean the everyday thankfulness that comes only when you lose the things that everyone else takes for granted-- and then they are restored to you. That is the kind of thankfulness brought to you courtesy of the Department of Defense.
I always feel this the most at Thanksgiving.Our family does that thing where everyone goes around the table and says what they are most thankful for. When it comes to me I say one of two things. I say that am thankful for the service of all those deployed. Or I say that I am grateful that my husband is home this year. Then I get all teared up.
This annoys my mother-in-law. She is too much of a lady to say so, but I know she thinks this is overly sentimental hogwash (I know this because I can read her mind. This is a little skill daughters-in-law have. Ask anyone).
And, really, this isn’t overly sentimental at all. My mother-in-law doesn’t know this, but the holidays that you spend apart due to the needs of the Navy or the Army or the Coast Guard or the Air Force or the Marines change you. The military has a way of reminding you that being together isn’t an assumption. It isn’t a given. It isn’t expected.
Being together isn't a given, Family.Although our civilian family members and friends can take each other's presence for granted, military life means that you know that being together is something that should cause you to stop and be truly grateful.
It isn’t any surprise to any military spouse that President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in the middle of the Civil War. It was a year when hundreds of thousands of families were suddenly so aware of what the absence or loss of their soldier meant. Being together was cause enough to be thankful.
This year, my sailor is home from the sea. As I write this, he is waxing my floors (because his mother is coming to visit and she will know). This year he will cut up the bread for dressing and brine the bird while I peel potatoes and run off to the grocery for the third time that day.
This year we will sit next to each other at a long table lined with parents and children and friends. When we all say what we are grateful for, I will say that I’m thankful Brad is home this year and that I am so grateful for all those deployed.
Then I will tear up just a little, because thanks to the military, I do know what it means to be grateful.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Xzavior T. McNeal.