5 Lessons I Learned From Cooking My First Thanksgiving Alone

‘I, I have no idea what I’m doing,’ he said as he held the knife in the air.

‘What do you mean, ‘you don’t know what you’re doing?’

‘I mean, I’ve never done this before and I have no idea how to do it.’

‘Well, you just slice it,’ I said calmly. ‘You slice the turkey,’ I added as though I had any clue what I was doing.

The truth was, I had no idea how to carve a turkey any more than my husband.

We stared at one another and then turkey for a while, as though it were some sort of foreign alien resting on our table.

‘I didn’t think it would be this…difficult,’ he said sighing, running his hands through his hair.

When I turned to look at him, his eyes were filled with fear and frustration. I giggled a little bit as he turned to me.

‘What? What is so funny?’

‘It’s nothing. It’s just, you’re training Marines and you look a heck of a lot more frightened of that turkey than a heavily armed enemy camp.’

He flashed a smile at me. ‘That’s because I can outwit the enemy. It’s hard to outwit a dead bird. A delicious dead bird, that is.’

And with that, we turned to the Internet which had surprisingly good instructions on how to carve a turkey. The internet was pretty much our answer for everything that year: pregnancy, babies, turkey.

Our first Thanksgiving away from home as a married couple wasn’t exactly National Lampoon fodder, but it certainly wasn’t Martha Stewart perfect either.

When it comes to holidays, the military can be a double edge sword.  If our spouse is away for the season, it can feel nearly impossible to get into the festive spirit. But these are also the times where we may strengthen our bonds with friends and family as we rely heavily on them to pull us through.

Once our spouse returns, there is much jubilation. Yet all too often, the next duty station will take us miles and miles away from those very same friends and family and the following holiday may be spent missing those same people who propped you up the year before. It can feel impossible to, well, have your ‘turkey’ and eat it, too. But, these are the times when it’s up to you and your spouse to fill the home with magic-no matter what state or country you’re in.

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