Everybody get enough to eat today?
A few posts on Facebook and Twitter are reminding folks to keep in their thoughts the men and women in uniform who can’t be with their families today, as they’re either serving abroad–perhaps in harm’s way–or just stationed somewhere and unable to take leave to get home. So, tip your hat to them, along with the cops, fire fighters, EMT’s and lots of other fine folks answering a higher calling which precludes them from taking the day off. Or, maybe they’re elderly with no other family, or in need of a helping hand.
Such posts also caused me to think back to a few Thanksgivings where I, too, was unable to be with family because Uncle Sam had seen fit to plop my bony ass down somewhere else, or I simply didn’t have the money or leave to be able to travel home for the holidays. Despite that, we still found ways to observe the tradition as best we could, just as we had taken time out to recognize the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day earlier in the month. This happened whether we were heading to the mess hall for chow, accepted the invitation of a married Marine who had opened his or her home to us young bachelor/bachelorettes, or what have you. I recall one Thanksgiving where we were in the field, and we were allowed to un-ass our gear and whatnot long enough to scarf down dinner. What was on the menu, you ask?
No, this isn’t a picture of the actual meal I ate, but it’s the same configuration/contents. I actually swapped with a buddy whatever it was I’d drawn from the box so that I could eat the still-unidentified substance that passed for turkey in the little vacu-packed pouch. I think I had ham slices, or something similar. One of the things we used to do for equitable distribution of MREs among our group would be to open the box of twelve meals and shuffle them around. Back in those days, there were only the twelve different meals from which to choose, and they’ve thankfully continued to expand and improve the selections over the years.
For us, though? Twelve brown bricks per box, each with their entree and varying assortments of freeze-dried fruits, faux-cakes or cookie or brownie, along with crackers and cheese or peanut butter, the latter two items fully capable of bonding an armor plate to a tank, or fusing your digestive tract to the point that you’re soon shot-gunning bottles of Dulcolax. Since the twelve meals were ordered and packed the same way, savvy folks in theory always could grab the “best” meals if they were quick enough. So, we shuffled them to keep things fair.
During one deployment, I drew Chicken ala King seven times in a row.
Seven. In. A. Row.
Nothing but Chicken ala King for seven straight meals. I couldn’t trade it; nobody wanted it. Chicken ala King was the leper of the MRE menu, circa 1986-1990, and known by its more popular designation, “Snot with Vegetable Kibble.”
To this day, I fucking HATE Chicken ala King.
While that particular Thanksgiving observance may have been lacking so far as the eating part was concerned, I still remember sitting around the fire and joking with my buddies, our friendship helping to lessen the sting of not being home for the holiday. I think the surprise beer delivered to us by our C.O. later that evening may have greased the skids a bit, too.
So, for those of you who observe Thanksgiving, I hope you had a fine meal in the company of family and/or friends, and I hope you’ll take a moment to wish a safe holiday to those who can’t be home today.