When Steve got asked to go on a 2 1/2 week work trip to Edinburgh Indiana to give dental care to soldiers coming back from a deployment in Iraq we knew that it would be a "different" kind of Thanksgiving this year. His assignment would run from Nov. 16-Dec. 4th and he would see patients everyday (weekends included) starting at about 7 am and sometimes not ending till 8:30 pm. Luckily, I was able to come up here with him and stay at the hotel so at least we could be together. When Steve found out that he even had to work Thanksgiving Day we were both pretty bummed. We had looked forward to maybe being able to go home to California for the holiday and spend some time with family and friends, so this work assignment came as a disappointment, especially knowing he wouldn't even get Turkey Day off!
The morning of Thanksgiving came and Steve went off to work at the clinic. I hung around the hotel, feeling kind of weird because I wasn't near family or friends and it didn't really feel like Thanksgiving waking up in a hotel and all. When Steve came back from work we both talked to our families, which made us miss them even more-hearing about all their Thanksgiving festivities and traditions that we weren't able to be a part of. We were both feeling a little "un-festive" but we decided to go to the Thanksgiving dinner that was being put on for all the dentists working here, since they weren't able to be home for the holiday. The dinner was to be held in a small, somewhat bare room on post, at Camp Atterbury and to be honest we weren't expecting much more than catered cafeteria food and a dismal atmosphere. When we walked into the room where the dinner was to be served the Thanksgiving holiday really began for us! We saw that the tables had been decorated with tablecloths and vases with bright festive colored flowers and there were spice pumpkin candles adorning every table to give it a homey feel. When we went to where the food was being served that's when we saw it.....the spread of food that had been prepared with love for us! A group of volunteers had made everything homemade so that we could have a Thanksgiving dinner! There were green beans, yams, tons of juicy turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, many varieties of salads, stuffing, and more!! Then we saw the dessert table! Not only were there plenty of pumpkin, pecan and apple pies...there were also tons of specialty desserts-all homemade from their favorite family recipies! There were brownies, sugar cream cake, pumpkin spice rolls, lemon cake, and many more! As we sat down and started eating the volunteers that had made the dinner for us came around and were thanking all the dentists for all they were doing by helping the soldiers. They also wanted to make sure that we not only filled our plates with food to eat, but that we fill plates to take home for leftovers to eat for the remaining days while we are here, away from home. My heart was touched as I saw how these people had sacrificed their own Thanksgiving day with their families to serve us! They were so generous and loving we almost felt like we were surrounded by family. Just writing about it brings tears to my eyes. We thanked them over and over for all the time they spent cooking, setting up and serving us. One man even spent a whole evening peeling 25 pounds of potatoes so that we could have homemade mashed potatoes! The evening came to a close and a warm feeling filled our hearts. As we drove back to the hotel, Steve and I reflected on our Thanksgiving experience. We decided that it was our own "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." What had started out to be a lonely, strange holiday...turned into one of our favorite Thanksgivings ever thanks to some people with helping hands and big hearts! There was more love and Thanksgiving spirit in that little room we ate dinner in, than we have felt all season!
We will never forget this Thanksgiving-because it reminded us that Thanksgiving isn't as much about having the certain foods we always have, or eating it at the place we always do, as much as it is about a feeling of Thanksgiving for all we have and continue to be blessed with! We only hope that we can serve others with as much geniune love as we were served with this Thanksgiving!