Friday, November 25, 2016

Bailey Charm

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve. Years ago, one of my nephews coined a little ditty which he wanted us to believe referred to himself, but which since we've claimed as a sort of birthright: "The Bailey charm: Can't read it in a book; Can't buy it in a store." For our clan, it's our time to be together, with all the weirdness that entails. When we gather at our daughter's, it starts off normally enough with a delectable dinner of cordon bleu, but after the table is cleared, the fun really begins.

It all began in 2003, as we were caught in the throes of a nasty power struggle within the church. It had taken its toll upon us, and we desperately needed some way to counteract the negativity that had nearly overwhelmed us. Linda bought a large linen tablecloth upon which we recorded some of the things for which we were thankful in spite of our circumstances. Every Thanksgiving Eve since then, we have brought out that tablecloth and added the new blessings of each succeeding year. There was the year Matthew laid newborn Nathan on the table and traced his outline, and the traced hands of the grandchildren growing larger each time we met; the thankfulness for new homes, new opportunities. It's getting hard to find an empty spot, as each grandchild plus the occasional guest adds their gratitudes to ours. Our only problem is each child wants that tablecloth when our time comes. It is the record of God's faithfulness and our amazement at blessing upon blessing.

Following the tablecloth, everyone files into the living room for a certain segment of "A Christmas Story," after which Todd ceremoniously brings the Leg Lamp through the dining room to its revered spot in the front window. Ian dutifully rubs the lamp just as he did spontaneously that first Thanksgiving Eve when he was still in diapers. Everyone files outdoors to admire the "glow of electric sex" while reciting the appropriate lines from the movie. Next door is a beautiful Victorian home replete with a widow's watch, elegant landscaping and decorations to rival a Hallmark Christmas Special. We have the leg lamp. And I suspect, much more fun. My nephew was right; you can't read it in a book or buy it in a store. It's available nowhere else in the world, and I get to be a part of it. I am blessed, and very thankful tonight.

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