There is a moment during holiday meals that I may cherish even more than the cooking and whirlwind anticipation of the feast being prepared. It is when the last bits of sauce have been swept up with the rolls, everyone leans back in their chair with a happy sigh, and the conversation just hums along. It never lasts long. Children playing rambunctiously in the next room have a tearful collision and summon a parent, or someone is motivated (perhaps by the dessert display across the room) to begin rinsing dishes and dividing leftover food. But in those moments when cheeks are rosy and bellies are sticking out, stories and laughter come eas
ily and any family drama takes a backseat. I feel quite cozy then and start to wonder how I manage to live across the country from my family.
My last two Thanksgiving were spent with friends and co-workers in Oregon, and I loved each of those celebrations in their own way. Yet there is something about sharing that meal with people who changed your diapers and played with
you when your front teeth were missing. I feel connected and honestly myself. I think that's what we all crave for the holidays, to be surrounded by love with no pretense. Whether in Oregon or Oklahoma, I'm looking forward to more empty plates at Christmas.