We are so happy that, wherever you are, you are with us this year. Can you feel the hug I’m giving you right now? Maybe you feel seven pairs of arms hugging you. It’s like that here.
I hope you don’t mind that it’s a bit chaotic all the time–Molly, Maggie, Rory, BonBon, and ET (plus Emmy the dog), plus Daddy and I agree that comfort is more important than rigid cleanliness, and chaos is more fun than order.
I’m handing you a box of ornaments so you can decorate the tree with us on Thanksgiving. Touch everything and ask questions! Mostly the decorations are the ones the kids made in school–you’ll see Stars of David mixed in with holly and snowmen. If you sit down long enough, someone will tell you the story of each one!!
Speaking of stories–Thanksgiving starts with the traditional McDonald’s breakfast. Is that a terrible tradition? Then we go home and cook. Mashed potatoes, soft and buttery. Rice, too, because most of the kids don’t like mashed potatoes, and it’s no big deal to cook something else, too. Turkey roasting in the oven. We’ll have corn and I’ll make sure I have rutabaga, which I will insist is delicious but no one else will taste! I’ll fill up a plate for you, and please—eat your fill, because even though there will only be 10 of us (you, us, and my sister and her wife), there’ll be like a metric ton of food, so come with your appetite!
Some years, we use paper on the table so we can draw and I’m not even gonna lie. The boys (and I) will wind up drawing ridiculous, inappropriate pictures, and Daddy will roll his eyes and pretend he doesn’t see.
Then, when we celebrate Christmas Eve with you, we don’t even have a proper meal. We just make the best junk food. Potato skins, mozzarella sticks. Chips and queso. Chips and dip. What’s your favorite, because we’ll have that, too. Then, and this is my hard line in the sand: we put the gifts under the tree just before bed. ET is 13, Molly is 23, and I still insist, because gifts must be a surprise! Plus, everyone has a gift for everyone, but we believe homemade is the best.
On Christmas morning, my ridiculous children still get up at 7, and we open gifts before breakfast. And then, it’s one person at a time, so we can appreciate the thought and love in each gift. Last year almost everything was boxed in some sort of graham cracker box because Daddy eats a lot of graham crackers. It became a huge joke–maybe this year, I should actually give someone graham crackers.
We’re not a typical family–visitors knock and walk in without waiting for someone to answer the door. If you don’t expect it to be clean, you won’t ever be surprised. And you will be hugged and fed. Your brothers and sisters will love you and support you. When you leave, you’ll have food for the road, hugs for your soul.
We have a tradition here: my sister believes that butterflies are our mother come to visit. My mom passed away in 1996, and whenever I see a butterfly, I say “Hi, Mom,” and I smile. Not too many butterflies in the winter. So—whenever you see something red, will you please think of me? I’m choosing red because it’s everywhere—and I want you to remember all the time that you are loved by so many, but most of all, by me.
With much love and many kisses,