Muffled giggles had Karla’s eyes popping open bright and early Thanksgiving morning. The bedroom door creaked and she heard a soft “Shhh”. The noise gave her just enough time to roll over in the king sized bed and make some room before eight-year-old Kathy and her five-year-old sister Heather abandoned all attempts at stealth and bounced into the bed between her and Mitch. The mattress trembled with the aftershock of their landing.
Mitch rolled over with a mock groan. “We’ve been invaded.”
“What’s ‘vaded?” Heather asked.
Mitch rolled over on top of her, pinned her to the sheet, and rubbed his overnight stubble against her soft cheek. Shrieks of little girl laughter filled the room as he turned his attention to the older girl. “Attacked, overrun, plagued, pestered.” He rolled back over and settled the younger of the two children in the crook of his arm. “Morning puddin’ two.”
He looked at Kathy. “Morning puddin’ one.”
“You’re the silliest grandpa,” Kathy told him as she snuggled in next to Karla. She handed her grandma a book “We’re ready for our story, Nana.”
“Just the two of you?” Karla asked. “Don’t we need to wait for Matt?”
Kathy shook her head. “He says he’s too old for Dr. Suess.”
“He’s a dufus,” Heather added with five-year-old sincerity.
Karla felt her heart crack a little at the inevitable changes of time. No doubt Matt’s decision to miss their Thanksgiving morning tradition was only one of the changes occurring since their last visit six months ago. They were growing up faster than the four or five yearly visits could keep up with.
Their daughter Cheryl, her husband Austin, and the three children had arrived from Kansas City late last night.
Lucas, his wife Michelle and their two children, twelve-year-old Mark and six-year-old Holly, lived outside of Tulsa and would be there by mid-morning. Their youngest son Jonathan, his wife Amber, along with their two kids, ten-year-old Aiden and seven-year-old Renee, lived in the opposite direction, just across the Texas line in Gainesville. They would be here by noon. The eldest of their four children, Nicholas, would spend the holidays deployed. Karla sighed. With almost twenty years in the Air Force Nick and had spent his share of holidays overseas. She’d never gotten used to his empty place at the table.
Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled for two o’clock. The men and boys would turn the living room into a rowdy man cave, cheering their favorite football teams to victory, swilling sodas, and ruining their appetites with snacks. The women would seek the quieter sanctuary of the kitchen to catch up on each other’s lives while they prepared a meal that would be properly appreciated only in memory.
She glanced at Mitch. Almost forty years together and their family was healthy and whole, and growing. They had much to be grateful for.
Kathy patted Karla’s face, pulling her back to the present. “Nana, we’re ready.”
Mitch scooted a little closer, just as eager as Karla to share in these quiet moments with their grandchildren. “Yeah Nana, what are we reading this morning? I’m not too old to enjoy it.”
Karla laughed at the three of them and looked at the book in her hands. “Yertle the Turtle. One of my favorites.” She opened the book and began to read.
“On the far away island of Sala-ma-sond, Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.”
***I have grandchildren two states away. I travel to them for Thanksgiving. When they were young they were usually in bed by the time I arrived late Wednesday night. I use to wake up bright and early on Thanksgiving day with three little boys piled in the bed on top of me. It broke my heart the year they decided they were "too old" to climb into bed with grandma. What's your favorite Thanksgiving memory? While you're here take a moment to visit the rest of the pages. Terri has a contest running on her page and Callie has a new post. If you like what you read, please consider joining the page.***