Our last bit of progeny, the exclamation point at the end of our family, issued forth on November 1st. We celebrated and brought him home from the hospital. That night, our four year old got the stomach flu. I spent the night with him, holding the bowl so he could throw-up literally every hour on the hour. Meanwhile, Mere was in another room trying every trick we had heard of to get our new baby to stop screaming and sleep.
The next day, the septic tank stopped working and started backflowing into our bathtubs, necessitating emergency pumping and digging.
It was against this backdrop that our child came into the world.
The plumbing started working again, and the stomach bug passed.
However, the baby didn't stop crying. He cried. And cried. And cried.
All night long. Every night. And most of the day.
Days and nights muddled and blurred into one long bout of crying. He just kept going.
We were exhausted (this was when I became addicted to diet Dr. Pepper, for those are curious)--physically and emotionally. These were difficult days and dark nights. There is a quiet desperation that begins to set in very quickly.
Happily, something happened.
The parents and other teachers at my school stepped in and stepped up.
Within a few days of the birth, by the time my Mother-in-Law went home, the meals started coming. Every night there was a meal--including weekends--and Thanksgiving. Several parents got together and provided our Thanksgiving dinner that year. It was assembly line--each person sent a different item--and it was a little different than our traditional menu items. But, it was one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for us.
We literally didn't cook until Christmas break that year, and it was basically one long, six week Thanksgiving feast, a celebration of abundance from loving friends.
Eventually, the baby stopped crying (although not for a long time) and our world slowly returned to equilibrium. But the practical kindness and generosity of colleagues and parents provided a balm that helped smooth the difficult transition. Their tangible expression of love helped sooth our souls as well as feed our stomachs.
This year, as we gather for Thanksgiving, we have a delightful four-year-old who now brings a net-increase in the happiness and joy in our home. Our circumstances have improved, and we'll have all our traditional family dishes. But, I remember with such gratitude the year that thoughtful friends saved Thanksgiving.