Family gathering together is what makes the holidays special. Family, in all its forms. We arrive, ring the doorbell, and are welcomed with hugs (or grunts.) We eat and laugh and tell stories, catching up. We play out the human drama in the family microcosm. Older family members display what they have learned for younger generations to see, if they will. Funerals, though enormously sad, have been some of my most meaningful family experiences. We grieve together, share the family lore, and partake unquestionably in love. Weddings, while hopefully more joyous occasions, strike me as similar. Baptisms. Bar-mitzvahs. Holiday celebrations. Sunday dinners. Even the mundane moment, however, gives families powerful moments to bond, to contemplate, to rejoice, to mourn, and to hope. The poem “Monday Night,” below, describes one such moment from my family’s past, and relates to Chapter 16: Around the Fire Pit post of the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.
and we gather again,
sitting on cinderblocks
around the fire pit;
holding long applewood sticks,
like fishing rods,
with points in the flames,
with the warmth, the glow,
the power and mystery of fire.
singing songs about
head, shoulders, knees, and toes,
and the beauty of God’s creations;
reading poems about kitties and calves,
and forks in the forest path;
telling stories of inspiration and faith;
munching popcorn and brownies;
keeping the cats away from our cups of milk.
toss sticks into the flames,
poke smoking sticks into the ground,
carve their special sticks
with knives that are somehow always dull.
Sun sets behind towering pink and orange
Cumulous that dwarf the snow-capped mountains.
Fire settles into a ringed bed of shimmering coals.
Children quiet themselves
and stare into the ebbing heat and color.
Mom and Dad look to each other
and share an unspoken gratitude that,
for this moment,
life is good.