My urge was to rush in and hug him, but he still puts on a macho act rather than show weakness. He’s been like this since he was twelve. That’s when his first dog, Toby, died after being hit by a car. He had said crying was a sign of weakness. Now that he is a dad, maybe that will change some day. For now, I don’t want to embarrass him.
I had wanted Thanksgiving to be as close to normal as possible, but not this year. I miss normal. Before I teared up, I went back down the hall to the darkness of the living room and waited for Paul to leave the kitchen.
I summoned everyone into the dining room for dinner. If it had been a normal year, Cyrus and Daria would have been racing each other to call the whole brood to dinner. Instead, one of us will mask up and take a grocery sack of leftovers to Pamela’s house.
Gene squeezed past me and said, “You set too…” I put my finger to my mouth to shush him. ‘…many places,’ he mouthed.
I gave him a stern look and mouthed, ‘Remembering Twila’.
He nodded. “Irene, you cooked too much food.” Gene played along a bit too dramatically, but maybe Paul won’t notice. He pointed at the wild rice stuffing, Twila’s favorite, but not his. I bugged my eyes and nodded towards the extra place setting. He nodded and kept quiet.
After we settled into our seats and Camille in her highchair, I said, “Let’s give one thing we are thankful for. It’s been a hard year. I’ll start. I’m thankful for technology so I can still see all my grandbabies faces even if they are on video calls.” I tapped Gene’s hand to signal his turn.
Gene patted his stomach, “I’m thankful for all this delicious food.”
“Oh, you always say that. What about you Paul?” I asked.
He looked pensively at Camille. “For my baby girl.” He barely got those words out before his eyes turned misty and he bowed his head. Gene and I looked at each other.
Camille shrieked and tipped her head to get a better look at her daddy’s face. He looked up at her. She shrieked again and then giggled, breaking the tension in the room.
I’m also very thankful for children’s laughter.
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