My dad’s main job in the Army was overseeing mess halls, and one year when I was about thirteen and we were stationed at Ft. Benning, Ga., he had to work all of Thanksgiving. We were far away from any other relatives, and instead of staying home cooking and eating without him, my mom, sisters, and I had Thanksgiving dinner at the mess hall. For those not familiar with military jargon, a mess hall is basically the same as a school cafeteria, and the food is of similar dubious quality!
My dad felt bad that he had to work, but he was able to sit down and eat with us, so unlike the rest of the soldiers in the mess hall that day, he did get to spend Thanksgiving with his family. I thought it was fun seeing my dad at work, and I would’ve eaten a mountain of brussels sprouts for all I cared, as long as we were together, but the mess hall food was actually pretty good (I don’t think they served “shit on a shingle” that day!).
I fondly remember that Thanksgiving better than any other from my childhood, and it goes to show that happy memories aren’t about what you eat, or where you are, but who you’re with. I’m thankful I grew up in a military family, because I believe it made us very close, and it taught us that home truly is where the heart is.