The Abbess: “Steve would you pray for the food?”
Padre Steve: “Dear Lord we pray for this turkey and all of it’s relatives on this Thanksgiving. We ask you to comfort them in their sorrow and give them your peace. Amen.” Padre Steve’s Thanksgiving prayer from 1992. I think the last time that we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.
I am on duty tonight, pretty tired and I have been pretty busy this evening. Hopefully things will settle down and no one will take any turns for the worse that will cause them or their families to have to mourn on this Thanksgiving 2009. We have several in pretty bad shape as well as some I know not in hospital who are in pretty dire straits.
But since things have settled down a little I do need on this Thanksgiving Eve pause to give thanks for all of the blessings that I have been given. I also need to give thanks for wife who has had to suffer all of my rough edges, refusal to completely grow up, my wanderlust, dreams as well as my obsession with work, academics and yea verily, even baseball.
I am grateful for so many things but most of all the Abbess of the Abby Normal. This dear soul has put up with me yea these 26 years of marriage and the 31 years that we have known each other. She has had to deal with a husband who has devoted himself to a military career and vocation as a Priest that has spanned 28 years of that time. She has endured separations too many to count and a decent number of deployments, unaccompanied tours and temporary duty out of the areas that we have lived. In the 20 or so months that I have been back from Iraq she has also had to deal with my struggle with PTSD and all the trimmings that go with it. Likewise she has had to see me grieve my dad, who though still alive only exists in body and does not know me anymore. I am truly thankful for the wife that I am blessed to have.
I think I have tried this dear woman’s patience quite often in our marriage, of course I do not think that she has forgotten the 1992 “Prayer for the Food.” It is dangerous sometimes to ask me to pray because I might just take you literally, as I did the Abbess back in 1992 who slipped up and instead of asking me to “ask a blessing on the meal” “say grace” or simply “give thanks” but rather asked me to “pray for the food.” Something that I did, and I think that the prayer was actually longer as I remember making eye contact with her during the prayer as she glared daggers at me as the guests either giggled or listened in stunned silence. This will surprise no one who really knows me well. Tonight as I made my rounds in our cardiac care unit I noticed one of the newer high-tech CPR dummies looking bored in the training/ conference room. I had to remedy the situation. Taking the obviously bored and neglected dummy I set him in a high-backed office chair facing the television which happened to be on. I so arranged him so that a person coming in the room would see the back of the head, which happens to be bald like mine as it was looking at the TV.
A person entering from the hallway into the unit would see the profile for the dummy. This one is kind of cool as it has a shirt and the facial features are more realistic than the old style. I did let the charge nurse know so he could get a laugh out of anyone who does a double take as they enter the unit bleary eyed at two or three in the morning. I mentioned my misdeeds to my buddies Cinda and Jennifer over in the PICU who both got a laugh out of it.
I think the greatest honor that I had on a Thanksgiving was in 2007 serving in Iraq. I got a chance to serve the troops and workers in the chow hall at TQ after coming back that afternoon from an aborted mission to Waleed on the Syrian border when our air support mission was cancelled when a host of Congressmen, Senators and dignitaries decided that they needed to visit Iraq leaving us and quite a few others marooned at Al Asad’s air terminal for 4 days as they flew about Iraq in our aircraft. Thankfully when I knew that we could not get anywhere the west and that we had to return to TQ so we could prepare for our next mission later in the week I got us on a C-130 back to TQ which delivered us home in time for me to help serve at the dinner that night. I was in charge of the Mac n’ Cheese and the Sweet potatoes. So since Mac n’ Cheese was not in my typical Thanksgiving dinner growing up I figured that I had to sell it. So with that in mind as each person came up to where I was I would say “Get your Mac n’ Cheese, an American Classic….8 of 10 customers agree that this is the best Mac n’ Cheese in Iraq.” The servers from the Gulf Catering Company who were to my right and left, both from the Indian subcontinent somewhere had very limited English but were laughing as I served people and even called people over to my serving station from across the room. When the workers got a chance to come up and eat knowing that they were mainly vegetarians I would say, “step right up, get your Mac n’ Cheese an American delicacy making American kids fat for years.” I don’t know if they bought the shtick but they did come back for more and most were smiling.
This year because of my duty schedule as well as my comprehensive exams the Abbess has done most of the work, even the turkey which is usually my job. When I go home I will help her with what I can since she has worked hard to get ready for this. After all, we haven’t hosted one of these since 1992 so I’d better help.
Anyway, it is late and with any luck the Deity Herself will grant me a night’s sleep with no 2 AM pages.
Peace and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Please pray for my fellow Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen who serve in harm’s way, those who suffer the wounds of war in any form and those in need in the USA as well as around the world. Despite all of our countries issues we still have so much to be thankful for to live in such a country.
I know that I am grateful and thankful for all the blessings that God has given me and all the people who have been there for me. God bless you again. Happy Thanksgiving!