It’s the late nights playing games where we laugh so hard that the table tips and plastic trains scatter into our laps, it’s five sleepy blonde heads emerging from a tangle of blankets on the blow-up mattress, it’s pie for breakfast: we start with the ‘healthy’ pies– apple, cherry, pumpkin– and soon degenerate to pecan, chocolate mousse and Toll House pies dolloped with with cream and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips. It’s asking four-year-old Will, “What was your favorite part of Thanksgiving?” and his sweet reply: “Gabriel was here.”
It’s the perfect holiday.
Undaunted by the black boot restraining her double sprained ankle, my sister cooked and cleaned, shopped and planned, guided me on rambling walks and taught me her amazing weight lifting routine. In a delightful change from their usual roles, Zoe became the big sister to Mary and Gabriel the big brother to John and Will. Mary followed Zoe like a shadow, seeking her approval on her outfit, her hair, the flower she plucked from the garden.
And Gabriel! Oh Gabe. After a lifetime at the bottom of the five boy totem pole, he absolutely relished the respect and outright adoration of his little cousins. Never one to abuse his power he led his happy entourage from garden to bedroom to a sprawling train set on the family room floor.
Even the work of feeding, bathing and bedding a household of fourteen became part of our celebrations. The washing machine and dryer hummed nearly constantly, dishes were washed and cleared as a matter of course and even the little boys happily carried a bag around the house as they emptied waste baskets. I’m convinced that no one really minds chores– they simply don’t want to feel they are doing all the work alone.
Shortly before our trip, I thumbed through a photo book I created of our Thanksgiving trip last year. It was magical, glorious; I couldn’t help but wonder if I could possibly capture such beautiful images again. Have you ever felt that? Have you watched your garden bloom or sewn a dress or read a book or cradled a newborn and doubted that you would see or create or feel something quite as wonderful again?
And yet, beauty and goodness keep coming, waves of joy crashing upon the shore one after another. No one can escape the pain of life, but if our eyes are open, gratitude will surpass every hurt and heartache.
the water was too cold, but the beach was heavenly