1. Participating in Operation Turkey with Tim and the kids, and watching the kids' attitudes evolve from "Oh, I guess we'll go," to a willingness to stand in a long line to make plates to "Hey, that was fun; can we do it again?"
2. Sitting around with my mother- and father-in-law after all the Thanksgiving guests had left, watching our friend Chris and a few other Longhorns -- someone by the name of Colt McCoy perhaps -- play the Aggies, watching the kids try on their grandparents' glasses and be highly amused.
3. Going to Homestead Heritage Fair on Friday with our friends the Dixons, bumping into three other families we know (this happens to me all the time, including, very bizarrely, the time we walked out of the Natural History museum in New York City and found, sitting on the front steps, the Dixons, who just happened to be in the Northeast on the same week and just happened to visit NYC that same day and just happened to be plopped on the steps at the moment we emerged) ... watching the Professor help with a mock barn-raising, watching the kids dip candles and stamp leather, hearing young voices raised in harmonious song ...
4. Sitting in bed at 10:00 a.m. Saturday next to the Professor, both of us reading books, with Caroline perched right between us, braiding her doll's hair and singing "Gary Indiana."
5. Working on a scrapbook, my under-attended hobby.
Five Things I Really Could Have Done Without on Thanksgiving Weekend:
1. Losing Caroline at the fair. Actually, someone else lost her, but we don't need to name names, do we? Five minutes of acute parental panic culminated in seeing her trotting toward us with a Texas State Trooper by the hand, very little by way of concern registering on her face. If she wasn't too upset, do I still need to put a quarter in her future-therapy jar?
2. My pumpkin cheesecake being half devoured before I could get the caramel sauce drizzled atop it. Really, really petty, I know.
3. Missing my siblings, their spouses (spice?) and my parents for the first time in four years of Thanksgivings. It was like I kept groping for my glasses, and they weren't on top of my head.
4. Veggies, ranch dip, and whining spilled in the car on the two-hour drive to the fair.
5. Losing our pet hamster, Nufe, to a sudden and unidentified illnesss. O the paroxysms of grief! O the keening! I wrapped my arms around my boy as he held that cold, stiff, furry little body and sobbed out, "He was so s-s-special to me!" Y'all. All I could do was hug and hold and listen and refrain from saying stupid things like, "Now now, it's not worth crying about," or "Come on, shake it off, pull yourself together." I may not be the perfect mom, and I may not always know the right thing to say, and words may emerge from my lips that I wish I could yank back, but once in a while I do know what NOT to say. I know that holding is better than scolding. I know it's best to guard the tenderness of a boy like a brave, flickering flame.