Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell
I love Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that brings American families together each year. It’s a day off from work and school, letting families gather to eat turkey, watch football and prep for Black Friday shopping. With the promise of holiday chaos soon to come, it’s also the perfect reminder to stop and take some time to express gratitude. Gratitude for life, health, family, friends, relationships, success, careers and freedom. Thankfulness of any sort… especially to our troops.
For military families, there is often an empty seat at the table. America’s brave service members are separated from their home and loved ones for the greater good of our nation, and they deserve lots of thoughts and prayers. It’s because of our military that we’re able to enjoy our freedom and time together with our families.
In my little corner of the world, I am certainly thankful for what the military has taught me and given to our small family of two. I get so sentimental this time of year. Thanksgiving reminds me to reflect on all the blessings in my life. Military life has its ups and downs, but in the end, I really do have so much to be thankful for.
I am personally thankful to the military for so many things:
Encouraging me to be strong and independent. If it weren’t for military life, I don’t know when else I would’ve had to dig as deep as I have to find strength and courage to get through the emotional rollercoaster of deployments, separations, leaving home and moving every few years. I’ve found independence and solace in my career, friendships and even my time alone.
Providing for our family. The economy is still rough; the job market is still shaky. But we have a steady income, a roof over our heads, health care and money to live.
Employing my husband, and giving him a job he loves. The military has brought him respect, success and a reason to get up every morning and fight for what he believes in. Knowing that he is doing what makes him happy is one of the greatest joys in my life.
Taking me to new places. Did I ever think I’d live on the beach? No, but the military sent us there. Did I ever think I’d live less than an hour from the nation’s capital? No, but I have the military to thank for that, too. Traveling and discovering new cities and states is an amazing experience.
Introducing me to new people. I’ve met some really great people thanks to the military and military spouse groups I’m part of. My relationships with them grew faster and stronger than most of my civilian friendships because of the things we experienced together. I’ve also met some not-so-great people, which taught me to differentiate between the good eggs and the bad eggs early on and not waste my energy on toxic people.
Showing me diversity. The military has taught me to be accepting and non-judgmental of the new people I meet and to appreciate their many and varied accents, ways of dress and cultures.
Giving me a voice as a military spouse. I care about issues I never thought I would care about. I’m confident about opinions I didn’t know I had. I love helping new military wives adjust to this life and come into their own, and I’m not afraid to speak up now.
Helping me to better appreciate my family and friends. I’ve always been close with my family, and I ‘ve been blessed to have wonderful friends. But our life in the military has taken me away from all of my loved ones and, with that, opened my eyes to how good I really have it and how much I truly miss them. I cherish every trip home or visit with my girlfriends and never take those times for granted.
Teaching me patience. From the day I met my husband, I had to be patient for three years while we lived so far apart. I was patient through two deployments while I waited for his return. I’m patient during the trips home to see my family, the long nights he works late, and all the ups, downs and changes the military throws our way. Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning every day.
Proving that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I swear, I love my husband more every day we are together. Every accomplishment, award or success he shares makes me glow with pride and respect for him. When we are separated, I miss him and can’t wait to be reunited. The time we spend apart makes our relationship that much stronger.
As a whole, I can honestly say that the military has really helped me to appreciate life and the relationships I’ve made along the way. What about you? What blessings has the military shown you and your family? I’d love to hear in the comments below. Have a beautiful holiday.