Holiday Hubbub

by Rich on November 27, 2017

The Thanksgiving holiday is so full of tradition, and a lot of it not necessarily involving turkey and cranberry sauce. It’s one of those long holidays, taking up at least four and a half days, that involve a lot of moving parts. Travel and food are obviously huge, but then there is all the ancillary tradition that goes along with them. The football, the Black Friday shopping, the basketball tournaments, the leftovers. A lot going on there. And sometimes I’m super into all of it. Sometimes I’m not. And not everyone gets that. But there’s a reason why I’m OK giving all the holiday hubbub an occasional pass.

That reason is Thanksgiving, 1990.

I don’t remember who played who that weekend in any sport. True story: for this column I had to google my Alma Mater’s football schedule (we had the weekend off and played the following weekend, which was December 1st. And lost. I didn’t know that either). I don’t remember who was hot in college basketball or who was front-runner to win the Super Bowl. I have no recollection of which team in college football was ranked first in the AP poll.

There are some things I do remember. I remember that there was a fuel oil leak in the number #3 pump room and Lessard and I had to stay up all night swapping out a bad valve. I remember that Senior Chief Thrasher ripped Danis a new one because he was late for watch. Again. I remember that I was glad I was working 6pm to 6am because that meant my thanksgiving meal would be traditional “mid-rats” (midnight rations) of hot dogs with chili and not the main mess deck’s poor version of a Thanksgiving meal (which, full disclosure, I can’t stand anyway). I remember that mail call that day included a huge box sent from a church in Nebraska. Or maybe it was South Dakota. But it was massive and filled with Pringles and sardines and about two dozen back issues of Sports Illustrated and that by the time Lassard and I had swapped the valve and fixed the leak, the only thing left was the sardines. And I was happy to have them.

I remember these things with a certain degree of clarity because I was at sea, aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-60), an aircraft carrier, deployed in the Red Sea during Operation Desert Shield (It wouldn’t become Desert Storm until six or seven weeks later).

It wasn’t the only holiday that I spent away from family and loved ones. There were others. And I think because of that, my take on holidays tends to be a bit confusing to some of my friends. While I really appreciate being able to celebrate the holidays with my loved ones, I also know that it’s not the end of the world to do something different.

Here’s the thing… every holiday, this Thanksgiving included, there are thousands of men and women who are serving in the military that don’t get to take one day off, much less four and a half. And they don’t get to spend it with their families. They don’t get to hit the stores on Black Friday. They don’t get sit and watch football. Their meals may be a little different, but really that just reminds them what they are missing during this special time. No, for them, it’s just another day to get up and go to work.

So yeah… sometimes I’m OK with passing up on the hubbub. There are thousands who don’t have a choice. I think I’ll be just fine.

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