The title of this article appeared on a card that my 31 year-old-son gave me yesterday at the gathering of family at his new abode. He and his wife Lauren moved in this past August after a lengthy search for a house that would not only feel like a haven for them but a place into which they could welcome family and friends. That they did in grand style this Christmas. Lauren’s family, which included her parents, brother and sister, two sets of aunts and uncles, as well as my sister, two of her three adult children, the girlfriend and the 7-year-old son of one of her sons, her 6-year-old granddaughter, and a dear friend who feels like family, as well as her Havanese doggy named Gracie, gathered ’round the tree and tables that were filled with food that was shared prepared. Laughter and love permeated the air. The mammoth tree towered over us, filled with twinkling lights and ornaments from way back, as well as newly purchased decor. Greeting us on the lawn were blow up tree and snowman. The ‘doorman’ by the front steps- Darth Vadar with a candy cane lightsaber was a nod to my son’s Star War’s geekdom.
In a combination of feeling festive and wistful that came from missing those who had passed recently and decades ago, (including my husband/Adam’s father who died in 1998 on the Winter Solstice, after the last candle of Hanukkah and a few days before Christmas), I ventured into the house toting gifts that I enjoyed picking out for each person. Rather than using wrapping paper, they were all ensconced in reusable bags that are for carrying home groceries the next time around. A tree-hugging hippie in all ways, here. As my daughter-in-law and her sister opened their bags, they saw that one of the gifts was a This Is Us coloring book. It has a line drawing on the cover of the infamous slow cooker that was the instrument by which the male protagonist Jack Pearson meets his demise. We share the love of the drama that has people buzzing. When I opened my gifts, I laughed when I saw that Lauren had gotten me a little sign that has the words, This Is Us inscribed on it. Of course, we had to take a picture of the three of us, holding up our themed gifts.
My great niece Aryanna adores Adam and Lauren and crawls into their laps to play games and take selfies. She knows she is loved. We read a book called I’m Going to Give You A Bear Hug and after we paged through it, I reminded her that she can always decline a hug if she chooses. I am reinforcing that her body is her own and who touches it and how is up to her. We also played a game of musical freeze. They had this stuffed ‘poop emoji’ in a Santa Hat that sang, and used the tagline, “Can’t touch this.” She decided that we got to dance while the music was playing and had to freeze in whatever position we were in when it stopped. We all got the giggles and burned off some post-dinner calories in the process.
When Lauren’s parents gathered their side of the family for a picture in front of the tree, Adam hesitated and I reminded him that he was just as much a Winkler as Lauren is a Moser and that he belonged in the photo too. It just occurred to me that my birth last name Weinstein had morphed into Moser when I married Michael. Monogrammed towels can be hung either way as a result for me and for Adam and Lauren.
Several times during the day, Adam checked on me, asking if I was okay. He knows I miss my friend Ondreah who died on December 9th. I thanked him and hugged this linebacker-sized man who I used to have to bend down to hug and who had crawled into my lap when he was Aryanna’s age. I told him that I was feeling low key, but was enjoying being there with everyone.
As I gazed around the kitchen, living room and dining room at the family of birth, adoption, and choice that were enjoying each other’s company as well, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of pride. In Yiddish, the word is ‘kvelling’. He has work that he is exceptional at that blends his childhood love of video games and his adult love of stuff like Comic-Con and Star Wars and other delightfully nerdy things. In his own way, he is more like his ‘weird hippie mom’ than he would like to believe he is. He married into a family in which his in-laws still attend rock concerts and much of their decor consists of signed rock posters. His father-in-law has clothing festooned with peace signs and he makes tie-dye for fun. He is married to the love of his life who has thanked me for ‘raising the man of my dreams’. Could a mother ask for more?
Oh, and by the way, he chose the big bucks because he already had the best mom in the world, according to the card. I wish the first for him too, that way he can take care of her in her old age.
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