Our week of being thankful was topsy-turvy and wonderful, as was Baby Harper's baptism the Sunday before. She was curious about everything and everyone, didn't cry when the holy water was poured over her head (she does take infant swimming lessons with her mom in Dallas, so it probably wasn't a new sensation for her). And then our minister took her from her parents arms and said, "Now Harper is going to meet her people." As she walked with her around the church to be greeted and welcomed by everyone there, I swear you could almost see little Harper giving the royal wave, such was her demeanor and her beaming little face, our delightful little crowd pleaser, a natural born star.
Harper was absolutely the highlight of the season for everyone. She adored being in the mix, went from arm to arm with no fuss, fixing each new person with her piercing curious stare before breaking into a smile that lit up all hearts. We had seventeen people on the feast day itself, eleven of them who were sleeping under our roof for the twelve days Harper was here with us. Several of my friends asked me to run down for them where everyone slept in our modest three-bedroom apartment. We explained that trundle beds and couches were pressed into use, with the back bedroom functioning much like a camp dorm. My daughter and her love left late each night to sleep in my mother's former studio across the courtyard, and they were back early each morning to rejoin the pile up of people and the chatter and the joy. I weathered my usual anxiety before the feast, but it started to abate once the food was on the table, and everyone was serving themselves a plate. After that, I did okay, dissipating my OCD by regularly cleaning up in the kitchen. More than once my niece looked up from nursing little Harper and said, "Are you wrestling chaos?" Yes, yes, I was.
My brother, here with us for the first time, was thrilled to have his four children and first grandchild all together under the same roof. He was the master of libations all week, our bar set-up more crowded with spirits than ever before. At one point my brother, who is high up in his lodge and veteran organizer of formal ceremonial events, advised my husband and me to come up with a checklist to make staging our annual feast a well-oiled affair. His oldest daughter, my niece Leisa, Harper's fiesty mama, backed him off at once. "Excuse me Daddy," she said, hand on hip, "but this is your first time here. Do you have any idea how many years Auntie Rosie and Uncle Rad have been doing this? They are not new to this, they are true to this, so put your advice back in your pocket." We all laughed heartily, including my brother, and I have to admit I loved Leisa rushing to defend us, and with such a poetic remark. I think my brother will be back next year, at least I hope so. He seemed to have a grand old time.
On Friday we binged watched all four of the Hunger Games movies in sequence, in between serving ourselves leftovers, in anticipation of our usual night en masse at the movies; this year the choice was the new Hunger Games prequel, The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes, which we all enjoyed. By Saturday our guests began leaving, starting with my nephew taking the bus back north to college, with the last four family members flying home to Dallas and Trinidad on Tuesday. The next day, the editor and the publisher on my current book project sent their editorial comments on the first draft manuscript. So I am once again immersed in the work. This stage always feels a little overwhelming to me, as I find I don't always agree with the margin notes, especially at first, but I know I have inflicted this anxious resistance on writers myself when I am wearing my editor hat, so I do settle myself down and weigh each and every comment in good faith, trying to see where the editor is coming from. Invariably, editors make a book better, and I know this. My work now is to do my part of the dance with faith in the process and a heart that remembers everyone on this project is operating from a place of love.
In no particular order, here is an album of my beloveds from the two weeks that were. Needless to say, magical Harper is heavily featured.