By Shellie Miller-Farrugia
This is the time of year that most of us reflect on just what we are grateful for. When I look back at the years of growing our family from our first son into the five children (and two granddaughters) that we are so thankful for, I realize that, as some friends are becoming empty-nesters, there are others who are nesting frantically for the first time before their first baby’s arrival. Ahhhh, the nest. It’s never the same after you’ve added a child…or two…or ten!
Our first Thanksgiving with one 7 week-old son was fairly sedate. Of course, experienced moms know that this mother did not get a hot meal because those are the unspoken rules of motherhood. When the food is ready, the child is ready, too! Ready to spit-up, dirty a diaper, cry inconsolably, (insert dilemma here)…so after our son was clean, dry, calmed down and passed out in dreamland, I re-heated some leftovers after the kitchen was clean, grateful for family, friends and a roof over our heads.
Fast forward a few years to a smaller home and two rambunctious boys, 6 & 8 years old. The nest looked nothing like it did years earlier and had morphed into an unorganized melee of scattered toys, shoes and a primary decor of elementary art (including a permanent marker masterpiece drawn directly onto the back of the couch). Life was loud, fun, unpredictable and full of a variety of friends and their progeny. One Thanksgiving was spent with 16 of us, a brownout and a broken air conditioner. It’s a challenge to be grateful in 90+ degrees, tropical humidity and an oven that may stop halfway through cooking the bird depending on FP&L’s assessment of our neighborhood’s usage. That year, I was grateful for a lot of neighbors who were away for the Holiday. The roof over our heads was smaller, but was able to contain the gratitude of the 16 of us for a finely prepared meal, the love we all shared, and the Grace of God that helped us through the hard spots. The pool was a bonus, too!
In our same, small space, we reared all of our kids plus several more who came to stay for unspecified amounts of time. We also shared our nest with friends from overseas who came for as long as six months at a time. Excited about the things we shared to better their lives, we were even more thankful for the changes they inspired in us! New recipes, new friends, new games, new traditions, and new insights prepared our family for the many changes that would shape us over the years. The last Thanksgiving we shared with all of our family together included our sons’ spouses and a new baby. One loud (and often obnoxious) 12 year-old, one mood-swinging 2 year-old and a houseful of adult voices (three were soldiers home from tours abroad) trying to discern each what the other was saying in the midst of the din was enough to make anyone feel a little out of sorts. My response was an escape to our now bigger kitchen to check the turkey, its accompaniments and….”Did anyone get ice?” A quick trip to the convenience store was the perfect diversion in a busy agenda….for me, my daughter in law and a little girl who just needed a car ride to calm her. That year and today, our family is so grateful for each other, for freedom and for a nest that is always “home” no matter where we sleep at night.
It seems that our nest will be in a constant state of ebb and flow. We are thankful for the people who come and go and then come again as the landscape of our lives becomes more beautiful with each change.