Are we there yet?????

So this is what I’m thinking………

Who, pray tell, hasn’t heard, or spoken those words?

It’s Thanksgiving week. Less than one week from now, people all over will be traveling to the homes of their families to enjoy a day of thanksgiving.

When I was a child, we usually traveled to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, about 3 or so hours away. They had a really fancy house (at least I thought so!!) and I felt so special to be there!! In later years, my mom hosted, and boy was my mom the hostess with the mostest!!! She did everything up right!! She loved, loved, loved entertaining….and I guess that is where I get the same gift from, as my sister says I do it up right just like mama did! Now, with the addition of my daughter’s family, we go to her house where we spend the day and cook together!! I haven’t had a holiday, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas, or in fact birthdays either, for a number of years with our entire family since my son and his wife are stationed in Alaska with the Army… I miss them at holidays……in fact, every day….

I’ve started a new tradition with my little grandson, that every Thanksgiving we will build a gingerbread house together for them to display and enjoy during the Christmas season. Of course, last year, he wasn’t particularly interested, so his mama and I did it…..but this year…..I’m hoping he will be willing to at least place a few pieces of candy on the roof!!! And I’m hoping someday he remembers that his grandmama spent the time with him….

Traditions are important. They mark the continuance of family. And when those of us who have lost loved ones look back on our traditions, it brings happy memories to mind……so hopefully we continue some of those, or even begin some of our own. Like my mama’s dressings, which is included in every holiday dinner……like a family game after dinner, like the traditional Thanksgiving evening movie….Like Christmas decorating. It is scheduled to begin promptly this next weekend in our home, as has been our long-standing tradition. Can’t wait…..but first, there’s turkey to be cooked, potatoes to be mashed, pies to bake, and thankfulness and love to share….

By happenstance, as I was entering Barnes and Noble this morning, a young man passed my car and spoke out “Airborne Ma”am!!” (he recognized the insignia I have on my car!!) I turned and saw a tall, lean, young man with the telling no-hair haircut and asked if he too was airborne?? “Yes Ma’mm”!! I shouted back a word of encouragement, as I wrangled my little guy out of his carseat to go into reading time….Inside, I looked for him, started a conversation, and offered to buy him a cup of coffee, which he ever so politely refused. He was here on leave, on his way out East to another post. We visited a while, I shared with him about our military family, thanked him for his service, and wished him a Merry Christmas……I’m really mad at myself for not asking if he was here visiting family and if he had somewhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner…….

There are thousands like him all across this country, and thousands upon thousands who will spend their Thanksgiving away from anything familiar…..fighting in a war that has gone on way too long, and lost way too many lives……

My heart aches for them. I’ve been on the mama side of that equation and it is no picnic. I sympathize with their families as they gather with that one empty seat, missing and worrying about their loved one….aren’t they home yet???? This time of year there is brutal – especially in the mountain regions, where my son served. Desolate, freezing cold, rugged, just plain hard. Marching, marching…..are we there yet….?????

I’m a blessed mama. My son came home safe and sound, though he surely had angels surrounding him more than once when he had some close calls. I am eternally grateful every single day… My heart aches for those whose sons or daughters, husbands or wives, brothers or sisters….will never share this time with them again……

This year, when our families gather, let us all pause for a moment of remembrance for those who are serving, for their families, and for those who have given their all for this country. We owe them, and the generations before them who did the same, more than we can ever repay. They deserve our respect and our gratitude. And if you stumble upon a soldier this holiday season who is away from home, buy him or her a cup of coffee or a meal…. but most of all, offer your sincere, heart-felt words of thanks……

And most of all, if you are blessed enough to be surrounded by the ones you love, cherish every single moment…. and hold your loved ones close and never let go………..

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