Tag Archive | Thanksgiving

USAF Graduation ~

Every time I see dark clouds in the sky, and then the sun shining brightly through them, like I did this afternoon, whether it be just a small crack or a larger opening in the cloud line, I think of November 27, 1998.  Bear with me as I tell you why.

 Growing up, my two eldest daughters were very close to my parents, especially my father, who was the only father-figure they ever knew in their lives.  He taught them all the essential things:  how to make peanut brittle, homemade applesauce, etc.  Dad and Karalyn seemed to have a particularly strong bond.

 In her Senior year at Auburn High School, Karrie attended Air Force ROTC with the intention of making the Air Force her career when she graduated.  Despite the turbulence at home, she was very involved in her ROTC activities, had good grades and seemed very focused.  Her grandparents and I were very proud.  It was designed so that she would travel to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, right after graduation and attend Basic Training there, as the start to her promising career in the military. 

 Starting in late August, Karrie would attend Basic and graduate just before Thanksgiving, and her grandfather could not have been more proud of her.  Karrie was so looking forward to coming home after graduation to share her graduation with him.  No one could have foreseen how things would progress before she would finally make it home.

 My father passed away on November 18, 1998, while Karrie was in the middle of finishing up basic training and taking exams.  I still remember the anguish in her voice, not only upon hearing the loss of her grandfather, but knowing that she had a choice to make:  either come home for the funeral, or graduate from basic … just a few days before her graduation ceremonies at Lackland.  I think we both knew the answer, but I had to confirm to her that her grandfather would no doubt want her to finish the beginning of her new career.

 Al and I flew out to San Antonio on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1998 to see Karrie graduate… only a very few days after my father had been buried.  It was going to be a “quick overnight trip” for us, just long enough to get out there, do a little on-base sightseeing, spend the night, see the graduation, then leave that same afternoon to come home.  Whirlwind!


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The weather was less than stellar on Thanksgiving Day, and the next day, on graduation day, it was cloudy and threatening rain the entire day.  The graduation ceremonies were conducted on a very large field, and guests were seated on bleachers, much like at a football game (I assume).  It was so overcast, and I was so certain it would open up and pour any minute as the ceremonies started with cadets/graduates marching and parading on the field in front of us.  I fought back tears (and still do when I think of it) as I thought of my dad, and how he would’ve liked to be there that day to see this.  I kept trying to focus on the processions and pomp & circumstance going on in front of us on the field.  It was difficult. 


Getting towards the middle of the marching ceremonies, as Karrie and her colleagues were marching very close to the bleachers, and were about to do an “eyes right” to the Commanding Officer, suddenly the skies opened up and down poured sunlight!  I stared, astonished, at the parting clouds and the sun shining through a separation that shone right down on just this group of cadets!  Just Karrie’s group!  And I knew.  My father and mother were watching, and God was behind them watching over their shoulders from Heaven, and they were all proud.  Yes, I burst into tears at that moment and I knew they were with us there.


I don’t tell this story to many, as I have been scoffed as coincidence.  But that’s okay.  I know.  Al knows.  I hope Karrie knows.


Karrie continued to begin her career in the Air Force, and was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.  However, she met and fell in love, then married a career Air Force Intelligence officer.  She soon left the active Air Force to be a stay-at-home Mom to three of my wonderful grandchildren, and an Air Force wife to a soon-to-be-retired from the Air Force son-in-law of mine.  They still reside in Alaska.


Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  I hope you find inspiration in my story.  God is everywhere.  You don’t need to look for Him, he’s there… He’s right behind you, He’s got your back.  Believe it.


Until next time, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

Wild Alaska

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Awhile back, was it really 2001 (?) I visited my daughter and son-in-law in Anchorage at Thanksgiving.  He’s stationed there in the Air Force, and she had just given birth to my first granddaughter, Madisen.  Being November in Alaska, it was cccccold, but beautiful and sunny.  We took a ride down from Anchorage to Seward, which is on the coast.  The entire ride down I couldn’t stop taking photos ~ mind you, these pics were snapped with a Kodak 110 “throw-away” camera, remember those?  I recently found them while going through all my hard copies of photos that I’d stuffed away in a box for safekeeping.  So these photos are scanned images of hard copies.  About the best I can do for now.  But they are still really nice views of some awesome, wild Alaskan scenery.  I wouldn’t mind getting back up there with my digital camera.  Maybe someday.   I just wanted to share. 

Hope you enjoy!

Sharing the Seasons ~

From Thanksgiving to Christmas I am at the height of  The Season.  This is my time.  My heart is inundated with feelings of giving, loving and caring about others, moreso than any other time of the year.

As has been for the last 4 years in particular, my “thing” during this season of giving is to anonymously pay for other’s purchases.  Don’t get carried away!  I’m only talking McDonald’s!  I admittedly am addicted to McD’s frappes, and buy one or maybe two per week in the Baldwinsville drive-thru on my way to work.  During The Season, I make a habit of placing my order (usually a busy time for McD’s) and then going to the window to pay, before going to the second window to pick up my order.  While paying, I will tell the cashier that I also want to pay for whoever the order is that is right behind me.  Usually I’ll get a weird little look from the cashier, but then she obliges and rings up my order and then the next one, and I pay her.  So as not to totally confuse the person behind me whose order I just paid for, I pre-make by hand/computer little 3 x 5 cards (or cardstock cut up) some Christmassy-decorated note saying something along the lines of “pay it forward” and “Merry Christmas”, then I hand that card to the cashier when I pay and tell the cashier to give the card to the person whose order I just paid for… which she gladly obliges again.

My absolute favorite thing about this arrangement I’ve created is watching in my rear view mirror the face of the driver behind me as the cashier hands him/her the card and explains that it’s already been paid for.  Usually the mouth drops open and a smile appears, which is a cue that (hopefully) my point has been made and that person’s life enriched just a little by kindness.  And I pray that they pass it on.  ‘Tis the Season of Giving!

As I said, I’ve been doing this for about 4 years now, and have had only one “bad reaction” in all this time.  Once, upon pulling up to pick up my order and look in my rearview mirror for the reaction of the next driver, that driver (a woman) did not appear to be happy.  Indeed, she pulled up quickly behind me while I was still waiting for my order, and she jumped out of her car in anger and came to my window (which I quickly closed) and began yelling at me:  “Who are you?  You don’t know me!  WHY would you buy my breakfast??”  etc.   I just cracked open my window and smiled at her and said I did it because “I wanted to”.  She stared at me for a moment, while the server in the window waited for something to erupt, then she turned and got back into her car and let me go with my breakfast.  Wow!  However, that brush with death did not waver my inclination to keep giving in this fashion.

The expense?  C’mon!  At most it has cost me around $7-$8 for both my and the other’s breakfast.  Once or twice a week.  It’s a small price to pay for the enlightenment of someone else’s day.  Want a real kick?  Go through the drive-thru, do not order anything for yourself, pull up to the confused and puzzled cashier’s window and just pay for the person behind you.  Make the effort!  No, I’m not rich, not with money anyways.  But I’m rich in other ways, and God sees to it I always have enough to share with others.  Try it, you’ll like it.

Sharing my Pumpkin Roll recipe with you! Have a Happy Thanksgiving 2012!