We had barely been in the old house three months and were excited to learn that we would have two of the three families with us for Thanksgiving. And I was going to out-Norman Norman Rockwell, if it killed me.
I imagined the family lazily coming downstairs in the mornings, with their coffees, gathering in front of a fireplace, rejoicing in being together, catching up, laughing, getting a little caffeine buzz. In reality, our son had conferences calls each morning, our daughter-in-law had a little cold and we encouraged her to sleep in, and the teenagers emerged somewhere around noon, their language indistinguishable from guttural noises. Okay, so we failed Norman 101.
Now it was on to kayaking down the May River for the kids during the day, I thought. Oh, I could just hear their tales of competition, who got the wettest, how much fun it was. For the adults, a slow amble downtown, enjoying the art galleries, little shops, wine bars. I think the wine bars made the list but not much else.
Somehow we made it to Thanksgiving dinner. The table was stretched to its fullest, chairs scrunched around, the fireplace ablaze. A beautiful turkey, cooked to a golden brown, food brought by family members, everyone looking spiffy. A heart-felt blessing was said. A little wine hit for the adults, the candles lit, linen napkins…..it was oh, so terribly Norman. And then the teenagers started texting. No, No. No. Not in my plan or at my table. What to do? I know those looks when you tell them to stop. They glare, obviously unhappy and certainly not willing to join the party. It was going to get ugly. Help me, Norman. Oh, that’s right….you never had to deal with texting. I’m on my own here.
We have a box of “dinner-party questions.” I ran to get them, quickly sorted out family appropriate cards and delivered two to each person at the table. This was either going to be a complete disaster or it was going to work. At the very first question, my middle son managed to seriously (and I think on purpose) offend both his mother and his wife. She and I looked at each other, locked arms and left the room, vowing never to return. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the phones go down and the lips turn up. What could be better than a family fight right in front of their very eyes? They were hooked. Couldn’t get enough. They were also fascinated by answers to the questions…..we all learned something about each other. The cards were a blessing.
The teenagers cleared the table, served dessert and…hold onto your hat, Norman….asked to play Catch Phrase after dinner! Happy times can’t be prescribed, I guess. They have to evolve. We got lucky. So, Norman, I still love the memories you evoke in your paintings. That Thanksgiving, we made our own.