Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Gift

The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.  - Marcel Proust

The mass of muddy paw prints on the kitchen door should have been a hint, but I only casually noticed it in my hurry.  Today is a holiday, did you know?  It is Orthodox Christmas...and as family tradition calls, we are on our way to my husband's grandmother's house to celebrate with all his cousins.
I open the door and step out of the entrance.  And to my surprise there is mud...lots of it.  Do you know what happens when four inches of snow melts overnight...and you live in the country with a dirt driveway.... with four children in their best clothing...and a big black newfoundland puppy running right towards you? (I will let you imagine what happens) But, the mud is not what I remember most from today....
My husband's grandmother is ninety years old.  The greatest gift and the only gift that she ever asks for is that we gather for holidays at her home.  When I first married my husband, the gatherings were small.  Now, with all the cousins married, with families,  the gatherings have taken on a new life.  Her small two bedroom house is alive with people of all ages and sizes....running, chatting, laughing, joking, crying, eating and just being together.  Every year without fail, his grandmother makes the most splendid chicken soup with dumplings....first in one pot, then two, now three pots...just to feed the whole crowd.  She woke up early just to prepare this special treat.  It is her children's favourite.  It is her grandchildren's favourite...and yes, it is even her great-grandchildren's favourite dish on the Christmas table.  No one can make it just like her.   But, it is not the soup that I remember most from today...
There was something more that I remember.  It is something that I have seen before.  I saw it in my own grandmother's eyes, as she sat at the side of a room and watched my cousins and I laughing together.  I saw it in my husband's grandmother's eyes tonight. As we chaotically huddled around her for a family photo, there was a look of absolute peace and happiness that filled her face.

That was most beautiful moment in the day.  I think growing old is one of life's greatest is in age, that sometimes we can finally begin to see....

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