It was probably a month ago now that I first realized it. I sat down and counted out the days on the calendar. Four days on, two days off, four on, two off. Over and over again I counted and it still came out the same. Not that the count even mattered. Even if the off days had fallen right, they’d have just been ignored and comped at another time.
It’s one of the responsibilities of leadership. It’s one of the many things that make my B such an outstanding leader. Holidays are for everyone except those working 24/7 missions. Our cops work those hours. That means Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and every other holiday throughout the year. When everyone else is at home with their family, our security forces troops are out on the flight line and posted around base making sure everyone and everything stays safe. What is a boring and thankless job on a regular day becomes down right tedious and somewhat painful on a holiday.
I have tried to have a good attitude about this. But it’s definitely been the cause of some tears. Knowing that it’s not just Thanksgiving, but Christmas and New Years too. That I won’t just not see my family, but I’ll barely see B. Then I decided we could do something to make it better. I could cook food for the guys out there working and make it a better day. I tried to enlist the help of other spouses and unfortunately that was nearly my downfall. No one was willing to cook something for the actual holiday.
It became B and I taking care of his guys. Our guys. In the end, the spouses all ended up providing some desserts. But, again, to take care of his guys better. B and his flight chiefs ordered them chicken from a local joint that is beyond popular with everyone. Three hundred pieces of chicken were ordered. I’m pretty sure I watched one guy eat twenty-five pieces by himself. I baked up three cheesecakes and eight dozen chocolate chip cookies.
And then we took the food out to the guys working in the cold. We huddled around the back of the truck, flashlights were shone on the greasy chicken. People joked, ate, talked, and communed. Our little circle laughed about the culture on the flight, made jokes about zombies and chicken, and just shared in a simple human ritual together. Towards the end, when we made our first move in the direction of packing up and leaving, one of the guys said, “wait, we’ve eaten, but we have to have family interaction time now.” Everyone laughed and everyone stayed where they were. Then, the same guy decided we should go around in a circle and say what we’re thankful for.
I know it’s an act done by families all around the US on Thanksgiving. But there was something about standing in the dark, with the wind blowing, being huddled in a borrowed jacket because I’d forgotten my own and sharing what I was thankful for with these young men and women. Something deep inside me clicked. This is what it is about.
I am thankful tonight for the men and women who serve in the AF. I know I would not be a good military member, they would yell at me and I would cry and then yell back. I am thankful tonight for the men and women who serve for my husband. They are an exceptional band of people who work hard and take care of each other. I am thankful tonight that they opened their arms and allowed me to share this little portion of their time with them. I am thankful for my friends and family all the world over.
What are you thankful for?