Greg and Jeana Schlauch's son, James, had to leave school at the University of Nevada this year while he serves a year in Afghanistan as a fueler for the Chinook helicopters with the 133rd Aviation unit with the Nevada Army National Guard.
"It's most definitely different this year because we have a lot to give thanks for. Both my brother and son are in Afghanistan right now and they're both safe. And, they have been throughout the last ten months."
This is the first Thanksgiving he's missed, but Janean, James' sister, says they have memories that still fill the holiday.
"Every year my dad had a bet with my brother that he could never eat a whole chicken leg. Every year he bet $5, and every year my dad would have to give up $5."
James was able to come home this summer for a short leave... taking the time to see his family and propose to his girlfriend... with the help of 41 passengers from the plane representing the number of months they had been together, he carried the last rose with the ring.
But, now the holidays are here... Greg, James' father, says this family knows the memories of being together are even more important, and the countdown to his return next February has begun.
"As a general rule, people tend to become very... the traditions don't become very important when you don't get to have them every year. With us, we learn to celebrate after-the-fact."
Jeana, James' mother, feels a little more comfort after hearing his voice Thursday morning.
"I am thankful that we were able to talk to him this morning. He called and wished us a happy thanksgiving. So, we know he's ok. That's what I'm thankful for and looking forward to him to come home."