MARYSVILLE — With a son in the Navy and a daughter in the Coast Guard, Marysville’s Katherine and David Girard have grown accustomed to holidays without their kids.
This Thanksgiving proved different, though, when their son, Spencer, became one of only 72 sailors and Marines stationed at Norfolk, Va., to be reunited with their families.
Spencer’s parents were flown to Norfolk from Marysville, and his sister, Kamille, who lives in Virginia Beach and serves as a petty officer on board the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Beluga, joined them.
“With my family being on the West Coast, I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to see them for Thanksgiving,” said Spencer, a Navy seaman who graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2011. “Especially my parents, who I haven’t seen in a very long time.”
Katherine knew her son had put his name in for the “Happy ThanksGathering,” but urged him not to get his hopes up.
“The way they did it was just … oh my goodness,” said Katherine, who hadn’t seen Spencer in a year and a half, and Kamille in two years. “I didn’t know Norfolk was the world’s largest naval station, but you see when you get there. They spent a huge amount of money to treat everyone to a great Thanksgiving.”
The two-day event included not only a full-course dinner with all the fixings on Thanksgiving, but also tours of Navy ships, a turkey day football watch party, and a private concert by the band Train.
“They performed in the Macy’s Day Parade the very next day, but they took the time to play for us, which was very cool,” said Katherine, who added that she and Spencer enjoyed meeting other service members and their families at their dinner table, including folks from Montana and Hawaii.
Katherine appreciated the gift cards and boxes of goodies that every family and service member received, which included gingerbread house kits for younger children and Ziploc containers for leftovers.
“We even got to contribute to a cookbook that was issued to everyone, with recipes from each of us,” Katherine said. “From my husband’s mom, we submitted a recipe for turkey dressing, plus a chocolate poundcake recipe from his grandmother. It was a short but proud time, and we never would have been able to do anything like this without their help.”