More than 43 million Americans are said to have traveled at least 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving, and among them were four members of our family, including two grandchildren, who live in Nova Scotia. Two other grandkids were in Tennessee visiting other relatives for the long weekend, but it was a grandmother’s dream come true, nevertheless, having so many gathered here at one time. The feast at our house, with 14 adults and seven kids — from 2 to 11 — was all that it’s supposed to be (at least according to Norman Rockwell).
The grandchildren were extraordinarily happy in each others’ company, proving that there’s magic in the word “cousins.” They showed immediate and loving bonds even though they haven’t seen each other very often so far in their young lives. Differences in age and temperament notwithstanding, their acceptance and pleasure in each other was unqualified.
Naturally, and I have to admit it, my attention was drawn to the two kids from Nova Scotia, because they slept at our house and because we had so much catching up to do. They both strike me, of course, as noticeably clever. The younger of the two, Teddy, has just turned 3, and wants to do everything himself, regardless of whether the task is a suitable one. He is desperate to turn the stove on himself to brew his own tea, and equally eager to handle money in stores. The biggest laugh of the weekend came when my daughter told us that when she asks Teddy to hold her hand when they cross the street, he habitually says, “No, Teddy hold Teddy’s hand!” — and crosses sternly, with his right hand grasped firmly in his left.
The grandkids were not only by our sides (or underfoot as the case may be) in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day but during the week that followed. I’m not sure why it is so gratifying to see the youngest among them now playing with toys I bought when their eldest cousins were born 11 years ago, but I guess I’m just sentimental. It was delightful to watch them share the small metal trains and wooden tracks and the alphabet blocks.
Because I don’t see my Nova Scotia grandchildren often, I was surprised to hear what they picked out at Stevenson’s well-stocked toy store in Southampton (as a reward for taking some especially nasty medicine that happened to be prescribed this week): Teddy chose a hefty orange plastic backhoe, with flashing lights and a macho voice — accompanied by a blaring rock-guitar riff — that says things like “This is Caterpillar time!” and “Backin’ it up!”; his older sister, Nettie, chose a giant stuffed husky dog, which she named Balto.
At the candy counter at the new Mary’s Marvelous on Newtown Lane in East Hampton, for another treat, Nettie chose a bag of green gummy frogs (which ended up decorating the doorstep of a gingerbread house), while Teddy was beguiled by a massive, gold-and-white gift-wrapped panettone, of all things, weighing at least a few pounds. He hefted it home by its bright-yellow satin ribbon and surprised everyone by chomping down large quantities of what he called “cake bread.”
I don’t think the airline personnel will appreciate the rock riffs and “Catterpillar time!” noise from the backhoe, during the Delta flight back to Halifax, but Balto is jetting north on Nettie’s lap, and Teddy is packing a slab of panettone.