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As I write this afternoon, I periodically glance up to take stock of the room. It’s so quiet I forget that I’m not alone. My husband is leafing through a gardening magazine. It’s a very Canadian thing, this longing for planting season while snow is still in the forecast.

Our son leans back in the reading chair next to his father, scrolling through his telephone. We’ll soon be ferrying him off to the train station. He’s returning home soon to connect with friends, but will rejoin us tomorrow for further family celebrations.

One of our daughters crochets an infinity scarf for my husband. She has an amazing ability to sustain concentration for uninterrupted periods of time. I can see her determination to finish the scarf before her visit ends.

Our other daughter sits across the table from me, describing a locally filmed documentary she is watching about a colourful character in her community. The dancing guy, she calls him. This after she’s explained what kombucha tea is, along with a caveat to not drink copious amounts.

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Before the children awoke this morning, I worked on editing part of a chapter in the novel I’m working on. A young woman in the story finds herself in the “family way” as people discretely called back then. She examines her profile in the mirror and thinks to herself:

“It was altogether unbelievable, the notion that cells were multiplying and fashioning themselves into a new creature in there. Surely tomorrow, she would awake to discover that it had all been a dream.”

I suspect that I felt much the same way twenty-five years ago when I first stood before a mirror, marking time and watching for subtle changes.

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This afternoon, I am marking different changes. Our children range in age from twenty-two to twenty-five. They are similar but different. I marvel at each one of them. They are fearless but cautious, wise but learning, self-aware but still seeking and growing. They march to the beat of their own drums in a way that I was too fearful to at their age.

Dinner has always been a time for our family to draw together. If one of the children (or two or three) was ever out of sorts, they ate in silence while conversations took place around them. We’ve had great conversations at our table. Sometimes, we learned as much by what wasn’t said. And that’s okay. Dinner conversations have expanded to local politics, travel, social trends, reminiscing and future plans — ours and theirs.

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Our children are people whose friendship, if I’d just met them, would interest me. They are genuine and kind. Their reach of knowledge exceeds ours in several topics because of their education, interests and pursuits. Over the years their choices have surprised us more than once and stretched us, at some points, to the point of discomfort. But in the end, this stretching has opened our minds and kept us from becoming stale ole codgers. I’m grateful. I wouldn’t change a thing.

We live far apart, strung together in separate cities that hug the edges of Lake Ontario. It isn’t always easy to get us together in the same place anymore. For this we must plan ahead. And so. this holiday has been a special one because we were all together to share established traditions like a Christmas Eve viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life and to initiate a new one — the Tuinman Walk in the Woods on Christmas Day!

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The lead photo is of our Christmas Day hike. Do you have a unique tradition to share? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

 

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