The table was resplendent, set with my mother's antique china and my silver. Dinner was served in matching bowls and, when I ran out of those, served bowls and on platters that were from my grandmother's wedding set. My great-grandmother made the crocheted tablecloth. I like the ties to the past, they keep me grounded.
Around the table sat three generations, from the grandbabies to the grandmothers.
Dinner didn't come from the over this year, hours weren't spent slaving over a hot stove. Over a microwave, yes; but a stove, no. My mother-in-law's co-workers, wonderful women that the big guy and I know well from our college years, bought us our dinner from Seton Hill, where she works and we went to college.
La's cancer is gone, but we need six months of chemo since it was beginning to enter her lymph nodes. She's getting a port, just like my father had.
But dinner that night was not focused on cancer. It was about being together, eleven of us surrounding the table, wrangling the children and trying to get them to actually eat something healthy. My mother's companion was with us this year, filling my father's empty chair but certainly not replacing him.
So we survived our first major holiday without Dad. Last Christmas doesn't count, not when he died on the Christmas Eve. This year, I might dryly joke, I'm sober... but last year I was, too. I remember everything, despite probably drinking more in two days then the entire year previous. Then again, six or seven bottles of Zima probably isn't that much in the grand scheme of things.
(I think it's safe to say that I'm in no danger of becoming an alcoholic, eh?)
One year is creeping up quickly. December 24. My family does have a knack for death and holidays and other special occasions. Dad died only five days short of my mother's mother, almost ten years to the day. Grandpap left us right before Thanksgiving two years ago. My uncle died on my wedding anniversary. Of course, we can also mention my grandfather's minor stroke a week prior to my wedding and my father's diagnosis of bladder cancer two weeks later, but neither of those were fatal.
No wonder I'm so calm when holidays roll around -- so long as we haven't a funeral, I'm counting things a success.
(Did I ever mention my tendency toward irony and sarcasm?)
In all seriousness, Thanksgiving was a success. Dinner was divine, almost as good as the company. Serving dinner to family is indeed a blessing, you know. This year, though we thought about Dad, missing him didn't stop our lives, which is how it should be.
Things did stop this morning though, when I looked at my darling son's face and said, "What's wrong with his eye?"