So grateful for one of the best Thanksgivings ever, thanks to my Aunt Marilyn, Uncle Julie, Grandma and cousin Adam. Being in a place where BOTH of my children are not just welcome and loved but celebrated is more than enough to make this Mama thankful. And spinach squares to boot. What more could a girl ask for? Thank you, Auntie Marilyn. We love you!!
~ My Facebook status Thursday night
Our Thanksgiving plans had been in flux and ultimately, had fallen through. That wasn’t a bad thing, mind you. We were perfectly happy – dare I say excited – to have no one but our rag-tag little family for the holiday. None of the craziness that comes along with a houseful of guests, no pressure to be anywhere, no need to sit in hours of traffic. Just us.
But when my Aunt Marilyn called and asked us to come spend the day with her, well, we really couldn’t say no. “It will just be us,” she said. “Me, Uncle Julie, Cousin Adam and Ooma (my Grandma); that’s it. The kids aren’t coming until Friday.” The ‘kids’ are, of course in their mid-forties, but nonetheless, they – and we – will always be ‘the kids’.
And so it was that we packed up and headed off to Western Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.
I spoke to my dad when we got home. I tried to explain it – why it was all so perfect. “Ya know what it was more than anything, Pop?” I said, “It was that BOTH of my girls are so completely adored there – they love them to pieces, they respect them, they LISTEN to them.”
I told him about how, when we arrived, Uncle Julie gently guided Brooke into the den where they’d set out the toys for her. A magnetic building set and a castle with a bunch of figurines. “I know you like the castle, Brooke,” said Auntie Marilyn. “It’s very royal,” responded Brooke. And off she went.
“But Dad,” I said, “It’s not just that they put out the toys and had them waiting for her. It’s that they put them in a quiet spot off the kitchen. They gave her a place to escape to. It’s the little things that aren’t little at all, ya know?”
I told him about dinner. About how we’d all talked – all of us. About how they gave Brooke time – that precious, precious processing time that so many others simply trample over on their way to the next question. How there was no rush for her to respond before she was able. About how that allowed her to participate in conversation.
I told him how Brooke decided that we needed to say a special Thanksgiving grace and how everyone had been more than willing to play along when she said that she would teach it to us. And how we all learned it and then recited it with her – as one. “It’s Thanksgiving. The food is cooked. Now we’re going to eat it. Amen.” I told him how we all laughed and how Brooke simply couldn’t have been happier.
I told him how later I caught Katie talking Cousin Adam’s ear off and I figured I should intervene before he was tweened to death. And how when I walked over he shooed me away and said, “Git; I’m talking to my cousin.”
I told him how when Brooke needed space, no one looked twice.
And I told him about Grandma. About what a treat it was for all of us to see her. About how much the girls love her. About how much she loves them. I told him how beautiful she looks. How, at ninety-two years old, she’s cracking us up with her stories. I told him about how she and Katie talked and laughed and talked some more.
I told him what a joy it is to see them together and what a blessing it is for my girls to grow up with their Great Grandma in their lives. I didn’t tell him that I was pretty sure that I knew what I was getting him for Christmas, but yeah, I think a frame should cover it …
And I told him how when Adam left, he turned to Brooke with a hand up and asked for a high-five. And how, in a jaw-dropping moment, she wrapped her arms around him and said, “We’d hug.”
I told him how she then hugged everyone goodbye when we left. And how they all knew exactly how huge that was. How Auntie Marilyn stood with her jaw hanging open and said, despite the fact that I was standing right in front of her, “Jessie, did you SEE that?”
I told him how I’d seen it all – the love, the patience, the thoughtfulness, the respect, the little things that weren’t little at all – that made it all work.
And I told him how, as we got into the car, Katie said to no one and everyone, “I think that was the best Thanksgiving we’ve ever had.” And how, with all due respect to a lot of other Thanksgivings over the years, I really couldn’t argue.
And I told him how a couple of minutes later, Brooke said to no one and everyone, “We did it. We did Thanksgiving,” and how indeed, we certainly had.
Thank you, Auntie Marilyn, for everything.
It really was the best Thanksgiving we’ve ever had.