On Thanksgiving, most American’s gather with their family to give thanks for everything this great country has brought them. As a young kid, I remember the table covered with dozens of platters of turkey, stuffing, steaming mashed potatoes, creamy sweet potatoes, buttery vegetables, and tangy cranberries. Some years there may have been ham added to that as well. Smells wafting from the kitchen promised even more. The sounds of pots and pans were musical. My father stropping his father’s chef’s knife on an ancient steel rounded it out for me.
We had a huge table that seated most everyone with all the leaves added. Of course, there was still the kid’s table to the side. All my aunts contributed by preparing something, and brought it wrapped in foil. The smells were amazing. My cousins and I circled the table before dinner looking to load our fingertips with the black olives while eagerly awaiting the call to sit.
This happened either at my home or one of my aunts. Because my father and my uncle were both officers with the Chicago Police Department, they often weren’t there. When they were, one was usually in uniform (we lived in the district where my uncle worked). Sometimes we even had more people in uniform who were close friends of the family and were able to stop in to join us.
Once I joined the department, I discovered that since I was assigned across town, I would be missing many of the holiday meals. Even later when married, my wife and three sons would go to my mother-in-law’s. She put on a great spread for the holidays.
Most units I worked at banded together on these holidays. When I was a sergeant, we hired a caterer who prepared an entire meal for us in the Neighborhood Relations conference room. I will always remember it as one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals. Everyone brought their favorite side dishes and we sat around the large conference table passing plates and enjoying the holiday fare like a big family would.
Later, at another unit, we had a large lunchroom, one of the older single officers bought out a Boston Market and came in with enough turkey and fixings for thirty people as a surprise for everyone.
We become a family in blue over time and never is it clearer than at the holidays. I know many units that have the BBQ grill going out the station’s back door, pumping out hot dogs and burgers on the 4th of July. Families have always gathered over food.
That is one reason so many departments charitably donate turkey dinners to so many people. People who would otherwise have none. They understand the value of the family gathering is greater than the caloric intake. They want to share it.
If you have a child or spouse who must work this coming holiday help them celebrate with their family in blue. Send them to work with an extra homemade pie or cookies. Maybe some special treat that you enjoy when you’re together as a family. Thanksgiving can be a lonely night when you don’t have someone to share it with. Open your home to friends who work. They might only be able to stop by and grab a turkey sandwich to go. Later that evening when they’re finally able to eat, that warm family feeling will help them through their night.
Many people will say, “They knew they would miss holidays when they took the job.” While true, it doesn’t make it easy. So, to those who gather around the dining table and enjoy that great feast, remember the men and women working so that you can enjoy that meal.
Stay safe, run low and zigzag … and happy Thanksgiving to all my family in blue.
– Robert Weisskopf
Editor’s note: You can read all of Robert Weisskopf’s articles at https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/author/robertw332/ and find all his books on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2PsbT4t.