When we are younger, holidays are a time of magic. When we get older, we loose that magic and the holidays become mayhem and madness of the worst sort— keeping up with the Joneses, consumerism, familial demands, travel nightmares. But, I am reminded as I sit outside on a clear chilly night in Philadelphia, holidays are magical.

I am thankful for…

my old friends (the ones I knew before you visited me on raids, to borrow from Leonard Cohen’s poem), new community connections (a long year in Sacramento but finally the semblance of a community to lend me and my little household support… it takes a village to walk a dog this holiday season), my improved health, my improved spirits, a rewarding career, and daily sights and sounds that provide encouragement and inspiration….so that I may give back to you with renewed love and lust of life.

I arrived in Philadelphia on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Carrie picked me up at the airport and it was hard not to burst into tears. I’m a weeper during arrival and departure. My trips to Philadelphia are very special—Carrie’s is the one who melts me in good times and provides strength when things are hard. She also is a very funny woman. That goes without saying, I suppose. She’s a Gemini after all. After the airport, we went off to the grocery store where I ran up and down the aisles looking for the last jar of nutmeg or a stock person to open a box of light brown sugar.

Wednesday morning, I went along to pick up Kamal at pre-school and enjoyed sitting in the singing circle. (Left: Kamal catching my kisses). Then home to a warm house (as it was grey and rained hard both Wednesday and Thursday) to bake down pumpkins, core and peel apples, make pie crusts, and prepare various items for the next day. James and Bob arrived in late afternoon from Buffalo and as they ordered Indian food for dinner, Carrie and I headed off to New Jersey to pick out wine for the holiday and then to 30th street station to retrieve Einah.

As we pulled up to the station, Carrie asked me if i saw her and I remarked “no, but just look for someone wearing all black.” We went inside (I got to stare up at that amazing statue. It’s simply stunning, I tell ya) and I didn’t even recognize Ms. Einah as she walked up wearing an ankle-length magenta coat. Ah, there goes the all black. My sister is known for her limited clothing colour palette and I must say, the brightness made me smile. She looked quite healthy and happy. Her hair as curly as ever and her eyes a nice warm grey. I hadn’t seen her in over a year and this was the first thanksgiving we’ve spent together in well over a decade.

Wednesday was her birthday. Indian food, a homemade birthday banner, and a house full of friends made the night quite festive. We awoke on Thanksgiving and I laid in bed and listened to the chatter of friends and little ones downstairs. As someone who lives alone, I like to lay in bed and listen to the actitivy and chatter. We had a wee bit of lazy morning as I watched the Macy’s Day parade (the 80th anniversary). I’m happy to report that the blinking turkey is back in the rotation!

Bob and James had made a smashing spread of appetizers. Simply beyond description. The only slight snapfoo was the roasting pan was too big for the oven and at last moment, Carrie ran out to find one (thank gawd for big cities with stores that remain open on holidays!!!). Arun’s Mom, Dad and sister arrived by 5 pm and we continued the feast on and off for an hour or more. Eleven of us for dinner was quite manageable and a good time was had by all. 

I didn’t take any pictures of the event, which truly is a compliment as I was in the moment and not viewing it through the camera lens. Stitches and I did share a few cell phone images of cranberry sauce and pie. Sara sent a text image of Sweetpea and Siddhartha—to which I promptly burst into tears.  

{Arun’s come out to deck and has lite a cigar, and so here we sit listening to Ray LaMontagne in the cold night air. Carrie has joined us and now the trio is complete…with wine, no less}.

Friday the group headed off to the Linvilla Christmas Tree farm (also known as the pumpkin farm) where we saw the animals and played on the playground. I taught Kamal how to “walk like a chicken.” Good times. Once home, we ate ourselves silly on Thanksgiving and Indian food leftovers. Yumm. Einah left late Friday night to head back to NYC.

On Saturday, James, Arun, Kamal, and I went to Barkin Park for some awesome sunshine weather and a wee bit of kicking around the soccer ball. Most fun was swinging on the jungle gym calling like a chimp, much to Kamal’s amusement.

Later that day, we began putting the lights and garland on the tree. The effort was led by Arun and Bob. Followed later in the evening by cookie making and Kamal tree trimming.

I spent a good deal of time with each of them, but especially with the little one, Nina. I have never spent this much time with an infant and just a wee bit more time with a toddler/3 year old. Lots of singing in this household. Lots of wonderpets, diego, and backyardins. I am constantly amazed by how amazing these children are. The same can be said of the  love I feel when I see my friends parenting their children.

Carrie keeps asking me to move back to Philadelphia (and yes, you are wearing me down). Honestly, there are many reasons to be in this city. It is industrial, hip, old, grimy, and fresh. But, the strongest pull I have to these streets—even stronger than the architecture and the public art is the presence of magic… in Kamal and this little person, Nina, our next Gemini generation. Who ever would have thought one little person could have that much magic shining out of her? This is a picture I took of her while I was holding her. Such sweetness… both of them.

You should come here with me, there is a lot to see and experience….Happy Holidays to each of you, especially You. Thank you Arun, Carrie, Kamal, Nina, Einah, Bob and James for a Thanksgiving filled with thankfulness and laughter.

This morning, I awoke to the mostly lovely exchange. Kamal had gone downstairs when he woke up and as he saw the Christmas tree, I heard “It’s beauuutifuuul” “It’s enormous” in an excited breathless voice. Ah, to be three again and see those twinkling lights.

I head back to California tomorrow. I sat on the sofa tonight playing with Nina (“how big is Nina?” “sooooo big” as she lifts her arms above her head), Arun watching the Eagles on TV, Carrie and Kamal playing “turbulence/aiplane” on the floor…”where are we flying, Kamal?” asks Carrie… “are we flying to California?” “yesss” says little one. And I? I burst into happy tears. I love this family and feel especially blessed to have spent this time with them. When I come back next fall, Nina will be walking and Kamal will be nearly four. FOUR. Wow.

PS: Carrie was surprised that I did not put a picture of myself surrounded by all my clothing purchases from Franklin Mills outlet mall today. Hmph. That will be a postscript in the near future. Twitching my nose. She and I had a whirlwind shopping spree that was effective and relatively inexpensive. Most importantly, I now have a nice selection of girl clothes… i love you, Carrie.