Emma rolled over to face Nathan. “Good morning sleepy head.”
Nathan ran his fingers through her hair, enjoying the texture of her rich black hair, its highlights gleaming as her eyes twinkled amusement. “Good morning yourself, beautiful.”
Emma laid an arm across his shoulder and drawing him closer, kissed him intently, without provocation, lust, maybe a little desire, but with a happy peaceful tasting. “Do you usually do anything, make plans for Thanks Giving?”
“Nothing special. Why?”
“My family does this big dinner in Maryland. I fly out tomorrow. I’ll be gone for the weekend, back probably Monday night or Tuesday morning.”
His voice caressed her with its gentleness, “I take it, this is something special for your family.”
“Yes, yes it is. We involve gramps in a game of chess, which he cheats notoriously at, play board games, take a long walk through the woods, eat, take another walk after dinner, then settle around the fire, explaining what we most appreciated during the past year.”
“That sounds delightful. A real family thanksgiving.”
“It is, it’s really special. We make it special. Don’t get me wrong, there are squabbles, but we have great fun. We’re close, one of the lucky ones, I guess. I don’t take my family for granted. I know too many who aren’t as lucky as I am. They have no one to spend time with, no pandemonium, no one to care about, or care about them.”
The tinge of sadness pulled at Nathan. “I know what you mean. My family’s been gone for years. I was, am lost. We didn’t have the same style your family shares, but we were close in our own way.” He sighed, “I’ve made peace with that, it took awhile, but I have a few memories that stand out as extraordinary.”
“It never used to mean as much, well, it always did, but more so following a story I covered two years ago.” She dropped her eyes and squinted them shut. Nathan waited patiently. “My boss wanted me to cover a good thanksgiving story, one that had been received when we did an open letter contest asking for stories about the best thanksgiving the writer had enjoyed, the one with the most meaning. There was a gift, a turkey and all the trimmings for the winner of the contest.”
A heavy sigh escaped as Emma continued, “There were five of us vetting the letters. But one stood out above all the others. A little boy had written about the last thanksgiving he’d spent with his family. He detailed the fun they enjoyed. Though they weren’t wealthy, they were shared a rich with history, three was plenty of love and they were close.”
“That night, after everyone went to bed, someone torched their house. Nobody knows why and the perp was never caught. The cops figured it was a random act at first until five other houses were also torched. The other families weren’t as lucky, there weren’t any other survivors. They all perished.”
“The father of the letter writer managed to get the two little ones out. The mother went back to try to reach her mother who was in a back bedroom. They were overcome by smoke and were found huddled together holding hands.”
“The father, left the two, a boy ten and a girl seven, with the ambulance attendants and raced back to try and find his wife. Somehow he got past the firefighters through a side door and by the time they found him, got him to safety, it was too late.” A tear silently rolled down her cheek.
“The devastation of the story was horrific in and of itself. Even more heart-wrenching was the letter this dear little 10-year-old boy had written. It still moves me to tears. He lost his parents but was looking for a family to share Thanks Giving with. He wanted to share with another family what he’d always enjoyed with his parents because he hoped it would ease his sister’s pain.”
“This will be their second year spending Thanks Giving with us. Every year it instills even more deeply how quickly life can change, on a dime, in an instant or how important it is to never take your family for granted or forget to tell them you love them.”
Nathan pulled her face to his and rested his forehead against hers. “You are an amazing woman, Emma.”
“No, but I am a lucky woman.”
“I’ve never shared that story with anyone. We didn’t want the children’s Thanks Giving to become a three ring circus. The paper created a mini media event showing Ella and Mason entering a restaurant and as soon as it was safe, I whisked them away for the remainder of the holiday to spend with my family.”
“We keep in touch with their adoptive family who so graciously share them with us. They hold another Thanks Giving after the children return home.”
“I understand why you need to go.”
“One day, I want the same for my family.” She looked steadily up into Nathan’s rich warm eyes.
“I believe you will.” He placed a tender kiss on her forehead and inched slowly back.
Yes, depth, real depth here. Something he dearly wanted to be part of.