We were late getting into Longmeadow. My brother Roy, wife Patty, and son Dylan had already been there for a few hours. It was so great to be able to spend some time with them. We rarely get to see one another anymore. Dylan was so totally adorable – he’s such a perfect mix of Roy and Patty. When Roy was little, his hair was just like that, and he had those really long eyelashes (I always envied them), and he made some of the same faces. It’s uncanny to see. And yet, I can really see Patty in him too.
We kicked off our shoes and made ourselves at home. Ben and Dylan played pretty well together despite the difference in age. Ben was actually the one who took this photo of Dylan – isn’t it great? More on that below.
My uncle Ronnie has always been one of my most favorite men on the planet. I can’t even begin to list the many ways in which he has influenced me and supported me – he’s always been there. I wouldn’t have gone to college at all, but he persuaded me. I had some great conversations with my Aunt Ute while we were there. She has recently retired from her job. After so many years of working the night shift in a lab, she is really enjoying the personal freedom to do what she likes to do. She is taking a class to learn all the intricacies of playing bridge (after talking with her, I’m starting to get a sense of how complicated the game can be!). They are planning their next big trip – this time to New Zealand. I can’t wait to hear all about it and to see the photos when they get back.
We had the pleasure of meeting my Cousin Aletta’s fiancee Matt. We liked him very much, and can see that they will be good together. The thing I noticed most was that Aletta looked so happy whenever he was around. The wedding will be another reason to travel back here – yay! She is finishing up her Ph.D., winding up for the big finish, and she and John talked science for a while. I was enjoying just listening in on the conversation. (That’s how interesting it was – I actually shut up – grin).
My aunt and uncle’s house is the perfect place to meet for a family gathering. I love to explore and find new beautiful objects there, noticing designs and ways of organizing things. (I’ve been cleaning and rethinking our space since I got back!). There is a main room that sits up high and has incredibly comfortable couches and chairs. There is a fireplace, and a deck off the main room. The kitchen is a couple of stairs down (and had been redone since the last time I was able to visit), and you walk through it to the formal dining room where there is also a piano.
I have many happy memories of listening to my Uncle play the piano in that room. My one regret about this family visit is that he had hurt his thumb and couldn’t play much beyond “Twinkle, twinkle” and “Happy Birthday”.
All of the meals were delicious there (they had the eggcups in the morning! and bacon! and homemade jam!), but the Thanksgiving feast was exceptionally yummy. I even had seconds, which I hardly ever do. We attempted to celebrate my cousin Aletta’s birthday, which was a couple of days later, and my nephew Dylan’s birthday, which is in a couple of days from now.
We made a fatal error, however – actually it was me. Mea culpa, totally my fault. I sent Ben out with Aletta’s pie first! Well, Dylan was really excited about blowing out the candle, and he was not happy at all when the pie (with the lit candle) was placed in front of Aletta. Even bringing out his own pie with a candle didn’t really solve the problem. He had just woken up, and in addition to thinking that the whole candle-blowing event might be taken from him, I think he was also trying to work out where fire goes when it’s gone. He had been asking about the fire in the fireplace, too.
Ben was in heaven the whole time. He always adores Patty, and this visit was no exception. In addition to that lovefest, he also got to know Ute and Aletta. Ute took Ben for a couple of walks around the neighborhood, and talked to him at length, and even tickled him! Aletta listened intently as he explained – in great detail – his favorite Playstation2 game (the players, the levels, what you have to do). He’s been talking about Aletta and Ute and Patty ever since. I wish I had the “village” (as in, it takes one) here in Atlanta.
Ben took a lot of photos. In addition to that great picture of Dylan, he took these:
We talked to other family members that couldn’t come to visit. My brother Michael and his family stayed in Atlanta – Dotty is too close to her due date to travel. My mom Nancy and grandmother Evelyn couldn’t make it either. Everybody got a chance to talk to everybody, at least -except for Cousin Micaela. She and hubby Michael and their kids are out in Seattle. We couldn’t reach them, but I left a voicemail. I’m hoping to see them in March, and if not – they are bound to come to Aletta’s wedding!
We never talked about gratefulness, but all the things to be grateful for were palpable. Thank you for the best Thanksgiving I can remember! Hugs to all from Heidi, John and Ben!
We drove back to Boston, returned the rental car, and got past security early enough to change our flight to an earlier one. We still had enough time – on Friday afternoon – to get a bite to eat at the airport. Can it be? Legal Seafoods has a “Test Kitchen” almost directly across from our gate? Ohhh. I had freshly shucked lobster and avocado wrap. I was sorely tempted to have a cup of chowder. We had a great meal – at the airport. Wow.
I never thought that I would miss New England. I wasn’t sad to leave it when I moved to Iowa, and then to Atlanta. It has taken me many years to realize all the aspects of life there that I really appreciate. Every place has its pros and cons, and there are many positive things about Atlanta. I love the weather here, and the flowers, and I’ve made great friends here, too. We have a nicer house than we could afford to own in New England. Still, it’s become clear to me that the core of me is a New Englander still. That I’m a liberal yankee in a very red state is only part of the story. I was blinking back tears as the plane turned toward Atlanta.