Entry Forty: Thanks.

[I'm taking a break from the other stories to bring you this holiday-themed chestnut in seven parts. Today: 6 of 7]

There was an audible gasp in the room as people worked diligently to process what had just happened. I stared at my cousin Rob, who was next in line, and began sending him telepathic messages, trying to force his will to bend to my bidding. I needed him to realize that we were on the cusp of a huge breakthrough and his answer, his lone voice across the dining table, his correct response, could alter our annual pre-dinner ritual forever.

Rob was wide-eyed, biting his bottom lip, grappling with what he wanted to do, unsure if it was right, obviously feeling the enormity of the moment on his 26-year-old shoulders. “Uhm… I think… what I’m thankful for is… what he said.” Bingo! The little Dutch boy had pulled his finger from the dike and no one was going to be able to stop what came next.

“What he said,” said Sarah.

“What she said,” said Catherine.

“What she said,” said Dexter.

A succession of “he said/she said” answers followed and with each new proclamation fresh boldness permeated the room and the entire table was responding in record time. Every cousin, aunt, uncle and marginal relative was swept up in the moment and by the time it reached my chair no other alternative crossed my mind. “What he said,” flowed from my lips like a reflex, here and gone before I realized it was my turn. I was so caught up in the adrenaline of the moment that it wasn’t until the last person answered that I finally took notice of Father’s reaction to the whole episode. He was smiling, even laughing a little, but there was a hint of disappointment in his eyes as he said, “I’m thankful you all let me get away with this tradition as long as you have. I’ll pray and we’ll eat.” This was greeted with applause and laughter that quickly subsided as Father lowered his head to pray. We all grabbed hands and joined him.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

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