By Whitney Grunder - email
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nine-year-old Mackenzie and five-year-old Tristan Keough can't wait for their mom to come home next month.
"I love her and I wish she could come right now," Mackenzie said.
"My mom's just gonna tickle me until I pee in my pants," Tristan said.
Captain Melissa Keough deployed to Southeast Asia months ago, and like many other soldiers overseas, she'll be missing part of the holiday season.
"I know how hard it is for her, being a mother and being over there," her father, Garry Beavers said.
But her daughter wants her to know that they're in good hands.
"All she has to know is that grandma's there taking care of us," Mackenzie said.
Although this is the first thanksgiving without captain keough, the family gathered around to watch a special message from overseas.
And as soon as they see her face, smiles fill the room.
"We're real proud of her and all for the duties that she does," Beavers said.
"It made me feel happy that she's safe," Mackenzie said.
The family has a special greeting of their own for their loved one.
"I love her, she knows that," Beavers said. "But I hope she has a nice thanksgiving dinner over there with her fellow soldiers."
"We'll be thinking about her," her mother, Terrie Beavers, said. "We'll have a great meal and as I say the first bite will be hers."
Focusing on her return is key to staying positive in the midst of her absence.
"It's something that every parent who has someone in the service has to go through," Garry Beavers said. "But you can't dwell on it and just keep thinking about it. If you did, it would drive you crazy."
There's no doubt there will be an empty chair at the thanksgiving table, but this family feels they have a lot to be thankful for: a daughter, mother, and soldier proud to represent her country.