By Jennifer Wake, Family Traditions, PCS
“Mom, where are we going to eat Thanksgiving Dinner?”
Each of our three children whined at some point during the first three hours of our cross-country drive on Thanksgiving.
“I want turkey, ‘smashed’ potatoes with TONS of butter, and apples!” cried my son.
“I want turkey, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie cake!” cried one of my daughters.
Then, my daughters started bickering about how much turkey and green bean casserole they could eat. I tried to stop the fighting, but my heart was breaking over not having my own favorite foods on Thanksgiving. This was NOT my plan! I grew angrier and angrier at the Army for moving us again. As the kids’ volume grew louder, my husband started singing at the top of his lungs. He got them to stop whining and start singing.
We knew where we were staying the night, but when we made the travel plans, neither of us remembered that we would be traveling on Thanksgiving Day. The day I love to roast a turkey, make tons of side dishes, and bake too many desserts. After preparing the turkey, I would bake homemade cinnamon rolls and watch the Macy’s Parade. Eating rolls and sipping coffee started the day off perfectly.
This year our traditions had to change because of our orders.
As one of the lucky families on a winter PCS cycle, we often moved between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When the kids were little, moving during the winter wasn’t too bad. But once they started Kindergarten, moving during the school year was hard.
As I sat with a map, yes, a paper map, I tried to figure out which restaurant would be open on Thanksgiving Day. Their whining reminded me how much I missed our family traditions. There are no cinnamon rolls, parades, multiple desserts, or leftovers. This year was the year of the weirdest Thanksgiving.
Instead of watching a parade, we walked on a beach. Instead of cinnamon rolls, we had donuts. But the main meal. Where could we find that? Cracker Barrel was open and still had turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings. It was not full and definitely not like home, but we laughed and ate. Dave even ordered a pie to take to our hotel.
While we ate our untraditional meal, I asked each person what their favorite part of Thanksgiving was. One child said time off school. Another said, watching movies and sports. The last one said time together. Dave said it was time with family and great food. As I sat listening to everyone, I realized that our traditions are important, but the people we spend time with are what really makes Thanksgiving memorable. Don’t get me wrong, they still ask for my recipes and the special food I make, but what they really want is time together to laugh and remember our weirdest Thanksgiving ever. What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? How has a PCS forced you to adapt your traditions?
Jennifer Wake is an Army wife, mother of three grown children, teacher, and writer. She loves mentoring military spouses, especially chaplain’s spouses who serve sacrificially. Her various passions include writing books and blogs, developing training material, networking with women, and quilting. She resides in Bristow, VA, with her wonderful husband and two dogs.