I am a natural-born introvert, and usually events like Thanksgiving, with the crowds of people, loud noise, jostling (at least at our food table, I don't know about yours) and general largeness usually leaves me happy and full but somewhat strung out as well, yearning for a quiet room and some time alone.
I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or because everyone seems to be mellowing out more, or maybe it's just the confidence that family life has given me, but this year it was not like that at all. I felt completely at ease. Everyone around the table(s) just felt like "my people," and it was peaceful and happy. There were those great family moments where we all just happen to gather in the same place, and talk, and talk. Being a stay-at-home, I really miss talking in that way -- large groups of people, sharing memories, sharing ideas, all of it good-natured and friendly. We looked up everybody's birthday to see what famous people were born on our birthdays (me: Pat Nixon. B: Adam West). Dad hitched up the lawn tractor to a trailer full of hay and we had a hayride. At first it seemed corny but as we took lazy circles around the yard it seemed like the perfect metaphor for the year that passes in between Thanksgiving meals. Kind of circular, kind of familiar, slow yet over quickly too. And then you turn a corner and you see that piece of the yard (and it is a beautiful yard) in a way you never have before. Today it was a tall tree in the back corner of the yard with its leaves turned bright yellow, flaming on all the branches and scattered on the ground, all around. I stared up at the branches from below. C smiled and hugged N. The trailer bumped and jostled over tree roots. We drove figure eights around the yard that I used to wander in my childhood, singing to myself or reading books or gathering leaves like memories to press between the pages of the book of life.