Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thanks so much for having me back on Riding With the Top Down. It’s such a great community of readers and writers here, it’s neat to be a part of it.
Thanksgiving. The time of year when we stress out about burning the turkey, having the family over, including that family member that we could really do without, and trying to get dinner served without burning the house down (I did NOT do that last year, despite what some of my troops maintain).
But in the mad rush to get everything cooked, to think about the horrors of Black Friday, how often do we really sit back and say wow, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for? In 2009, I spent Thanksgiving in Iraq. I was desperately sad because I wasn’t with my kiddos. But you know what? I was with my husband. And we got to go to the chowhall on FOB Marez up in Mosul, Iraq together. We had a great meal with friends we’d deployed with and no one got blown up that day.
Last year, both my husband and I had our soldiers to our house. I spilled gravy in the oven and the house lookedlike it might have caught on fire. It didn’t and I’ll maintain that until my dying day. But we were able to break bread together, again with good friends. This year, I’m in Maine with my family. It was a surprise visit, coordinated by my brother and my little girls returned to where they spent more than a year of their life while their daddy and I were deployed.
I have so much in my life to be thankful for. My husband might still be in Iraq, but he’s alive and on his way home, along with the rest of our forces in Iraq. The war is finally ending after a long, long 8 years. I finally published a book this year, which released last week to a TON of support from the romance writing community who have stretched out a helping hand since I first came online before my deployment to Iraq.
As I write this, I’m conscious of the fact that there are many other families out there today who are unable to spend their holidays with their loved one because their service member has passed on. I’m reminded of the people we lost that year in Iraq. And I’m reminded that it truly is the little things every single day that make a difference.
My novel BECAUSE OF YOU is truly about remembering to be thankful. When Shane wakes up back at Fort Hood, he’s devastated that he’s not still in Iraq with his boys. Jen reminds him every single day, whether he wants to remember it or not, that he has a lot to be grateful for. It’s through the strength of Shane’s friends, who really become his family, that he realizes just how much he does have to be grateful for. And when he finally sees it for himself, he gets the biggest blessing of all, someone to love him in return. He had to walk through the darkness to get to the light, but Jen was there for him, helping him on the way.
So as you’re breaking bread today with your family or your friends or celebrating quietly by yourself, remember that today is about being thankful. Thankful that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thankful that we have friends and family who stick through the tough times and the good ones. Thankful that even if we’re walking through dark times in our lives, we’ll pull through and come out stronger on the other side.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving! I’ve got a turkey to burn, I mean cook.