By KATE REARDON
EVERETT — Thomas, Matthew and Ashlee Fields tear a loop from a paper chain and eat a piece of candy every night to mark the days until their father, Joe Fields, comes home.
Fields, who works on the flight deck aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, should return to Everett with the thousands of others aboard the ship in mid-February.
Crew members will be gone this holiday season, but on Sunday their families in Snohomish County celebrated the autumn season carnival-style at a south Everett hotel.
About 1,000 spouses and children gathered for games, prizes, contests and food at the annual Children’s Fall Festival sponsored by the Lincoln.
At the festival, children decorated paper cutouts of hands that will be sent, along with a video made at the festival, to the overseas crew.
Terri Fields said this year will the third time in 16 years her family will celebrate the holidays without her husband.
It can be tough without a spouse at home for the holidays.
But, you can make it through "if you keep your spirits high," she said, adding that the social networks of Navy families help.
The festival gives families a time to have fun and meet new people who are in the same situation with a loved one aboard the Lincoln, said Lorna Dupouy, whose husband, Capt. Douglas Dupouy, is the Lincoln’s commanding officer.
Some families will delay holiday celebrations, while others will send holiday care packages with tiny Christmas trees to those in the Persian Gulf.
The Fields will celebrate Joe Fields’ homecoming early next year with a traditional trip to Taco Bell.
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