I’m writing now again on the porch in Florida. Dan has come and gone. My brother, sister and brother-in-law have all come and gone. I’m sitting here wondering how one week could possibly go so fast. How a house bouncing with voices just 24 hours ago, is suddenly so very quiet.
Every year, before our annual pilgrimage to Boca Grande for Thanksgiving, I start having vivid fantasies about being here: sand between my toes, stringy salt-water hair, green everything, letting the Gulf wrap itself around my ankles, skin smelling of chlorine and sunscreen.
But what I loved this year the most- and I guess what I love every year – is the particular chaos that erupts from having all of us under one roof again.
We move like this globular organism – someone packing towels, someone making lunch and packing the cooler, someone calling out “can you grab the sunscreen?!”, someone getting the bocce set, beach chairs, etc. loading it all onto a golf cart and assembling again at the beach, the pool, the boat. Then, later at the dinner table with glasses of chardonnay.
We’ve spent nearly every Thanksgiving here – with maybe four or five exceptions in 35 years. Dan and Laurent – my brother-in-law- attached themselves to the tradition as if they have always been here. We’ve all grown to treasure this week. It’s boisterous and busy. Sometimes we push each other’s buttons, but we all belong here. (It’s a nice feeling – to belong somewhere.)
I love my family. I even love – or maybe especially love – our flaws. As much as we grow up and change, we are also the same. And then there’s the fact that they’re the only ones who have seen the entire journey of your life.
I’m so grateful for this long tradition – for the opportunity and the ability to return to this place and this crazy, fun, loving bunch.
I can only hope that someday James will want to return to us – to bounce around for a day or days – to laugh – and gather around a dinner table to tell us about the life we helped him begin.