Well, day 3 of party-hosting is now in the books. Mid-afternoon, as I was vacuuming and cleaning toilets and folding dinner napkins and longing for a nap, I wondered if I'd made a terrible mistake in imagining that we could pull off yet another party without fainting. But then the Harmony folks started showing up in our Portland kitchen, and all of the tears rose up into my heart. Such enormous hugs and smiles and hand-holding! Some of us went for a long walk. Some of us burned things in the oven and made the smoke alarm scream. Some of us sat around the fire and talked, with great seriousness and love, about the complications of being an insider/outsider in a place like central Maine. Some of us told jokes about the fun of being a Beverly Hillbilly everywhere we go. Some of us discussed weird home repair. Some of us arrived late because we had to thaw out a washing machine we were delivering. The night was extraordinarily sweet--a beautiful coda to the family parties, a salve for homesickness.
This evening, my two Chicago children will fly back to their lives. On New Year's Day my college boy will begin his New York City adventure. Tom and I will return to rattling around like two split peas in our little cottage. But it has been a beautiful holiday . . . a real holiday: a week of sweetness and overt joy. I am very grateful.