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We Gather Together

I’m back in Mississippi this week for our family’s annual Thanksgiving gathering. All 35 of us!

As you can imagine, it is a bit tough getting a few minutes here and there to catch you up on things; it is even harder to get a decent Internet connection out in the country. Every child over 12 has a cell phone, and all of the adults brought their work/phones with them as well — so we bargain amongst ourselves for time online. (I’m writing to you at 5:15 am — I thought I’d be the only one up, but my brother-in-law and nephew beat me to the punch to go hunting.)

My in-laws passed a rule confiscating all children’s electronics until it got dark. There was a whining chorus of “we have nothing to do” when we pried the devices out of their clawing hands — which is/was entirely bullshit.  “Come on,” we said, “we have 17 children all out of diapers and old enough to run around on their won, a variety of balls, board games, hiking trails, four-wheelers. We also have endless chores available if that’s not enough to keep you busy.”

That worked.

It’s nice here.

Brilliant color. It's Thanksgiving!

Brilliant color this week in Maryland, just in time for Thanksgiving!

The trees back home in Maryland have already peaked in color and the leaves are down, but the trees here are still full and just getting their color.

Last night, I sat outside at the fire pit with my youngest son, Calder, who is my Thanksgiving baby. The night was clear and the air was clean — we had a lot of rain earlier in the day. There are no streetlights anywhere nearby, so you can look up into the sky and see the vault of stars clearly. We listened to the logs crackle, and to two owls hooting at each other in the woods.

I’ve told Calder about Emmett’s life — well, not all the details. Calder’s only seven. But he knows I’ve been working on a book for a long time, and I’ve told him some things that he has in common with Emmett, such as: They both came from a large family; they both are the youngest boys in the family (and so get picked on by older siblings); they both like fishing; they both probably played a lot of games and had fun with their cousins, and, they both are/were very close to their mothers.

Calder sat back against me as we watched the fire and listened to owls. He said, “That’s nice. He must have had a nice life.”

Thanksgiving is about appreciating the gifts of family, friends, and blessings.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve come to understand and appreciate all of the gifts in my life — and that it is all a gift. The good times, the difficult work, the crazy schedules, the writer’s block, the fear and anxiety that go along with watching your children grow up.

I’m grateful and thankful for all of the friends I’ve made thanks to Emmett’s book. That means you, too. Thanks for reading!


Categories: Family

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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