"Is it good Betsy?" Jack cackles. "Is it GOOD?"
A mouthful of horseradish, she crunches a condiment drenched chip, the confidence of an executive all hers.
"No," she says. "It BAD." She hops off a five gallon bucket, her perch/stool at the new kitchen island. The skitter of babyish feet, the chuckles and chitters of siblings, she makes for the bathroom and a blasting faucet drink.
Pot roast and potatoes, a smattering of dips and side dishes, Betsy tries everything on the table glops of salsa, titanics of cream cheese, globs of beet horseradish.
All rainbows and unicorns, she returns and slings herself back on that five gallon bucket. Eyes blinking, bites of dinner squirrled in their cheeks, elbows slung on the island, siblings grin and grin, mirth and affection their tambourine in the band.
"Git, me more olives," Betsy points, a tiny bowl of kalamatas.
"Um, no, May I please have more olives?" I say. Siblings draw up their faces until every dimple is shouting, hilarity scattering limelight. Betsy slings it across the room like glitter at a party.
"Yeah," she chirps, dimpled cheeks rounded with giggles. "May I please have more olives, Mom?"
"Hmm," my pursed lips pulling a dimple in my cheek.
"Say, YES," she giggles.
"Hmmm," I snicker.
And so it is, something better than food alights on the table. Audacity, unguarded affection, the jesting of siblings, everyone laughs. The applause of affection refreshes our spirits.
6456. Dinner together. The prep, the eating, the clean-up, the togetherness, we gather a harvest of goodness.
6457. Meat for the freezer.
6458. The simple goodness of kitchen towels.
6459. We celebrate Christmas with my extended family. Seventeen children, ten adults, we all bring food and gifts yet we all just come as we are. It's a symphony of contribution and belonging, unguarded affection with all the complexity of twenty seven people. We rest in this unspeakable gift while we celebrate the most miraculous gift of all, a Savior. It's an ark to carry us through the year.