It is Monday, the day after the Thanksgiving weekend and colleagues at work are chatting about the holiday--who went where, how long the left-overs lasted and, for those of us of a certain age, what it was like to have the grown kids together again under one roof.
Betty's oldest son traveled home from his first job in another city; the middle son came home from college and the youngest was already in residence--he's still in high school. Here's her take: "It was so great to have everyone under one roof, everyone sleeping in their beds--the normal pattern of life. It's as though all of life we waited to come back to this. I felt like I finally got the right kilter back. I so lamented the break up on Sunday when two of my sons left. They'll probably be back in December for the holidays, but life shouldn't be waiting for these moments."
Kitty had her two children home for the holidays--her daughter home from college; her son back for the weekend from a job on the other coast. Her take: "It was wonderful having them both home--being our little family of four together again. The days are really limited in which we are going to be just the four of us. My son has a girlfriend. I really like her. She's lovely. I bet they'll get married one day. It's what you want for your children. But, from then on it will never be the four of us again."
I also had my family--Uber son, Alpha daughter, their spouses and children--under one roof. Not my roof this time. Uber son's. My take: It was touching to be together, to see my children and their spouses and my Grands reconnect--it has been over a year since we've had everyone together, not only under one roof but in one country. It was also bittersweet. Late on Wednesday night, when Alpha daughter and family arrived, it was heartwarming to see my children reconnect, to see the good feelings flow and hear questions asked and answered about each other's lives. And so bittersweet for Paterfamilias and myself. We were bystanders--watching the action but not really of it. After all, we'd kept up with each family--made it our business to get to Berlin to visit Alpha daughter and kept up on Skype. And we'd traveled to visit Uber son and his family pretty regularly. So we sat and watched the third leg of that family triangle connect--son, daughter, daughter-in-law, son-in-law. Happy to see it, but no longer at the center of it.
It's what Kitty and Betty are sensing lies ahead: Once the family is no longer the snug little four or five of you, the kilter changes forever.