Friday, November 24, 2017

Over the River

“Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go,
 The horse knows the way, to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow…”

After several years with the grandkids in Portland, Oregon, my sister and I revived our Thanksgiving tradition and we went to her house in Sebastopol. Back to her classic sweet potato in orange halves, her husband’s brussell sprouts, my wife’s apple and pumpkin pie, my incredible (ie. water/sugar/ cranberries) cranberry sauce and of course, the turkey. For our moment of grace, my sister and I both invoked the same awe and sweet nostalgia that we were eating on the literal table of our childhood sitting in the same chairs next to the same sideboard and under the same painting my Dad painted that hung in our New Jersey dining room. While folks our age continually are astounded that we’re so damn old, there is also a sensation of deep awe that we are still here gathered around that same table. Such ripenings and blossomings and so many cycles of so many seasons behind us. It’s simply miraculous.

And then today, off to the airport singing that song from my childhood, but now it’s the grandchildren’s house to which I go and no horses bounding over snow, but jet planes flying over the California landscapes. A second Thanksgiving dinner with my oldest daughter, husband and two kids and my sister’s oldest child with his wife and kid. How it goes on! More brussel sprouts and different cranberry sauce and yet more stuffing and turkey and pies. The more frenetic energy of a 6-year old and two 2-year olds than yesterday’s dinner, sometimes calmed and brought into focus by my repertoire of songs accompanied by ukulele and subsequent dancing. Sang my first Jingle Bells and Rudolph and Frosty and Dreydl song of the season and felt like a good crowd with which to kick it off. Zadie her usual explosive self, but also starting to read and as I write, entertaining herself independently, as she can do so expertly, with some Russian nesting dolls. Malik a different person altogether from four months ago, able to engage in real conversations and tell coherent stories. It’s an exciting time.

So three days ahead of stepping into the grandparent role and happily so. Swimming indoors tomorrow next to a possible search for Santa and my usual pilgrimage to Powell’s bookstore, for starters. And just on the other side of November, some 25 traditions and dates on the calendar that we’ve created, cultivated and sustained over these long years. Standing at the center of all the converging lines of past, present and future as we head to the close of the year and isn’t that a glorious thing? May the holidays truly be Holy Days!

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