WE MOVED TO HAWAII AS A MILITARY COUPLE. We had been married six years at that point and this was our third home base. We settled in and began working, my husband as a Naval Officer and myself as an Art Director. Though we lived in military housing, my husband decided that our tiny house deserved a generous deck for true enjoyment. In his weeks between deployments, he built a masterpiece which made entertaining friends much easier.

A year later we felt secure in our knowledge of Oahu. My husband had made many friends on his job and by November we were preparing to host our first Thanksgiving outside of the Continental United States. Because we were all apart from family, we invited our military friends to enjoy the dinner with us. That’s the way military families learn to thrive, by making their own friendship families at their duty station.

At the last minute we received the good news that my husband would receive two medals in the middle of November. His parents, who had never been to Hawaii, decided to visit and see the award ceremony. We were thrilled – not only would we have our military friends, but also our relatives in attendance for the Thanksgiving meal. My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook and I welcomed her help in the kitchen. She even brought her favorite holiday recipes in her suitcase to share.

What I didn’t anticipate was the stress that preparing a feast entailed. Being five months pregnant added to the fun. We came back from an island hopping tour with my in-laws to prepare for the holiday. First item on the list? Grocery shopping at the military commissary. My mother-in-law, Helen, went to select her fresh green beans only to find that the green beans had not made the shipment to the islands. Yes, that’s right, no green beans for Thanksgiving. This is unheard of in the States. Welcome to island living.

We made it to the turkey display and found that the sizes were all wrong for our crowd. Small and extra large seemed to be the poundages available. In Hawaii, there are no “next day” trucks dropping off a fresh load. There is one shipment and you make do with those choices. My mother-in-law decided that we would purchase the largest. It became clear that this seemingly straightforward meal would be more complicated than we had anticipated. It shocked both of us.

Adaptation seemed to be the theme for this Hawaiian Thanksgiving. Amid the plumeria blooms and sweet breezes we negotiated the preparation of each dish for the growing crowd which had met Dave’s parents at the awards ceremony. (Word of mouth had grown our number of guests. Parents were in town and that meant good food! We were thrilled to share the love.) The final episode which made us realize the humour in this holiday fiasco found all four of us trying to wedge the turkey into our smaller than normal oven in military housing. After the huge turkey went in, laughter was the stress reliever we needed. Four adults, in a hot kitchen, fighting with a turkey. It was ridiculously funny.

We set up tables on the deck and enjoyed the beautiful 85 degree weather with it’s breezes. I made sweet tea, and we proudly displayed our combination of dishes on the kitchen counter for all to enjoy. There we sat with our friends from all backgrounds and Dave’s parents as the “family” for all. The smells, sounds, and tastes were unforgettable. It was a meal I will never forget.

I hope you are able to adapt to all of the changes necessary to make your meal a memory for your family. Avoid any struggles with your turkey and remember, perfection is not really important The love and laughter will sustain you in years to come.

A Thanksgiving Giveaway:

Gain has generously offered Mundane Magic readers 5 Gain coupon books worth $10 dollars along with a sample of product for your personal use and enjoyment! To enter, post your favorite Thanksgiving memory below or simply tell us if you enjoy using Gain.


I have joined with these bloggers to share Thanksgiving stories and memories. Won’t you join us in the fun? (You can enter for more Gain giveaways on their sites, too.)

Participating Bloggers/Blog Include:



Disclosure: This is a paid post. Gain asked me to recall a memory connected to their Hawaiian Aloha scent. As always, the post contains my thoughts and opinions.