We go to my hubby's mom's house for Thanksgiving every year. The only year that we missed it was Tessie's first Thanksgiving and I was so sick that I just couldn't conceive of traveling over the holiday.
I have a love/hate feeling towards Thanksgiving. I hate the getting ready, packing for Tessie, dreading the weather, making the desserts and so on. But once we actually get there I am fine (plus we always go to the movies on Thanksgiving afternoon. And Blake and Ellie absolutely love going. It is their tradition and basically all they have ever known. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving for them if we did not see The Reidys...and oh my God, are there a lot of them!
My hubby is one of ten kids. That's right, I said ten. You can do the math when you figure in spouses, partners, and kids. That's a whole lot of Reidy. And for some of us, it will be one of the very few chances we get to see each other throughout the year. And the cousins (our kids) really enjoy seeing each other and the fact that they don't get much of a chance otherwise makes it that much more special.
They have been known to regale us with jokes, songs and even little skits that they made up while the turkey cooked and the finishing touches were made to the dinner. They will rummage through Grandma's dress up box and appear in full costume, complete with wigs. It can be quite funny.
Because we don't see each other often, it can be quite awkward for the kids to interact with Tessie. They are just not sure how to talk to her and include her.
Last year, I was sitting with Tessie in the TV room with a few of the other kids while we watched a kid movie. I wanted Tessie to feel like she was with the kids and that is what they were doing so I brought her in, and because she can't be left without and adult, I stayed in the room.
As we were sitting there I saw my niece, Katie, kind of sidle up to Tessie. She dragged a little chair over next to the wheelchair and plunked down. She was acting a teensy bit unsure so I pretended that I wasn't watching because I think it makes kids more nervous when they feel like their every move is being observed by an adult. Plus, I wanted to see what she was going to do because it was clear that she had some kind of plan.
The next thing I knew she was sitting right beside Tessie, sort of leaning in to be closer and had taken Tessie's little hand in hers and was very gently rubbing while quietly talking to Tess. It was beyond adorable. And it made me want to cry because she was treating Tess like a friend and not talking to her because an adult told her that she should. But what happened next made me want to bawl like a baby and laugh hysterically all at the same time.
Katie, still holding and rubbing Tessie's hand, looked at me and out of the blue said, "I love Tessie. She is a really good listener and she never interrupts you. And her hands are so warm and soft." Then she went back to watching the movie, still sitting with Tessie and holding her hand. It was one of the sweetest moments I have ever experienced with Tessie because it was so unexpected and innocent.
And with that sweet little observation, Katie reminded me to fully appreciate all that Tessie has to offer and not dwell on the things she can't do. That sometimes the littlest things are the things that we may need most of all...
Someone to listen to us without interrupting and a warm hand to hold...