As I write this, I am still swooning with love for my family and thankful for all my blessings. After a huge family wedding a few days before, when our cousin Bryan married Michael, his partner of eighteen years, some of us gathered again to celebrate Thanksgiving. There is a Yiddish word, kvell, which means to swell with pride and happiness. It’s the only word that describes how I felt, looking from face to face over the table at our Thanksgiving dinner.
Our family is, as my brother describes it, a modern family. My sister and her husband have shared forty years of the happiest marriage anyone can ever hope to imagine. They found each other, however, while they both were married to others, and it took them a long time to admit their love for each other and disentangle from their first marriages. It took them very little time after that, however, to marry each other.
My niece and her husband are happily living in separate homes and still the best of friends, so both came up from Florida for Thanksgiving. The husband, stepfather to her son, is helping his stepson, my great nephew, repair and upgrade the new house that the twenty-three-year-old just bought in our area. My great nephew and his girlfriend plan to live together in that house as soon as she finishes nursing school. Remember when people used to gasp when told a couple was living together without benefit of marriage? I certainly heard it in my generation, but thankfully all that prejudice and condemnation never ruled our family.
My great niece could not make it for Thanksgiving. She and her domestic partner live in California. Our family never blinked when my great niece admitted to being gay. So what? She was still the lovely, sweet woman we all loved, and now she has a partner we all love, as well.
Another niece and her husband hosted the dinner, to which we all contributed. She is an artist and jeweler and he is a woodworker and a chiropractor. Their home is a gallery of artwork, with even more artistic and architectural touches everywhere. The couple, happily married for many years, met after the end of their bad first marriages.
I brought my new boyfriend to the event, the first time I’ve introduced him to family, because he and I have been dating only two months. We met over the Internet and connected through his beautiful letters long before we met in person. By the time we met in person, we already liked each other, and after only a few months of dating, we are in a happy, committed monogamous relationship. We truly enjoy each other, even though (or maybe because) we’re both in our seventies. It’s never too late! My boyfriend is black, and not an eyelash was batted when I introduced him to my family members. Instead of prejudice, all my family cares about is happiness, and when I looked around the room, I saw happiness everywhere.
Our family situation, however, is rare. I know families with rifts, estrangements, prejudices, and conditional love, rather than unconditional. What a shame! What a waste of time, when love is all that matters in this world. I am truly thankful for my family. Whenever we gather, I feel love swirling around the room in an almost tangible fashion.
Obviously I have a great deal to be thankful for. I hope all my fellow writers feel the same way. Here’s to happiness, health, and lots of love for all my readers, no matter what the season.