Thanksgiving from the Dark Side
I have now experienced it all. Growing up, it was always Thanksgiving with the immediate family. Very rarely did we invite any one over. Less rarely did we go to someone else’s house. Once or twice, we ate out for Thanksgiving. Once, we had that traditional Thanksgiving with the WHOLE family, including grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I’ve had a Thanksgiving potluck on the few occasions I’ve had to work on the holiday. I’ve even had Thanksgiving at home alone, a one person feast in front of my computer. Now, I’ve had a Thanksgiving in a war zone.
It seems like any other day. There’s really no festive air. I don’t have the luxury of too-early Christmas decorations to bemoan. I didn’t get the chance to grocery shop and see all the Thanksgiving fixin’s on display. In my humble barracks there is no scent of pies baking. It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving, but it is despite clear skies and mild temperatures.
They did their best, though to get us in the spirit of things. The chow hall put on quite a spread, but it’s not home, you know? At home, I don’t have to line up outside waiting to get in. My mother don’t ask me for my ID card and my signature in order to eat. There is definitely no foreign national at the stove, fixing my plate for me. That’s just the nature of the beast. They decorated the place and begrudgingly I will admit that it was nice.
There was a huge cornocopia with real fruit displayed as a centerpiece. There was even ice sculptures. Who doesn’t like ice sculptures? But the baked ham, the large tin of green beans and even the turkey reminded me that I am not at home. (We don’t eat any of those things at Thanksgiving.) At first I wasn’t even going to go to dinner, but thanks to the rule about having a battle buddy everywhere you go, I had to go with my roommate.
In a way, I was kind of glad I did. Who wants to be laying up in their bed staring at the ceiling, alone, on Thanksgiving night? That’s just sad.
I ate a ribeye and shrimp cocktail for dinner. Followed up with a huge hunk of cake and some ice cream. I made my dining partners say a prayer, because that’s what we do at home. The ribeye was dry but I ate it anyway. As I chewed on the tough meat, I looked around. I was having Thanksgiving dinner with two people I don’t know that well only because the situation necessitated it. There were other people that sat alone. That meant they had come with someone only to be abandoned. That’s just depressing.
I was slightly cheered up because they brought sparkling grape juice. Oh, it can never replace a good red, but it was the thought that counted. After dinner was over, I didn’t get geared up for Black Friday shopping, instead I went back to the barracks to take a nap before my night watch began. Before I drifted off to sleep I told myself that no matter what time of the year it is when I get back home, I’m going to have myself a real Thanksgiving.