Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Tolstoy opened Anna Karenina with that now famous line, and I'm here to say that he was right. A year ago, it seemed as if the sad news in our family would never end. It was a withering, paralyzing time. But three weddings in twelve months has somehow changed all that. Watching three ecstatic young couples at the altar pledge their troth, and blubbering away while the kids just about skipped down the aisle was a deeply rejuvenating time for all of us elders. It has been a truly happy year. Here's a picture that captures it all: it's of the bride and groom from my parents' cake. This porcelain couple has been together for nearly three-quarters of a century, and they're still smiling. May we all be lucky in love, no matter for how long.
|Last Christmas -- sandwiched between weddings -- was special, even for Christmas. One of my sisters jumped on the plane with us in Chicago as we made our way from the east coast to the west -- and completely surprised our Seattle sister. (Go back to that quote from Tolstoy. I'm sure we weren't the first family to pull this off.) What did we do? Just what all happy families do: trimmed the tree, set up the putz, baked, cooked, shopped, baked, cooked, shopped, baked, cooked, shopped. We should have made more cookies; I ate this particular batch single-handed. The prettiest ones were decorated by my niece, who has an artist's sense of color and composition.|
|Winter gave up, as it always does, and spring took over. Spring means, first of all, roses, and second of all, getting the boat ready for sailing. The roses are the easy part: they just grow. Look how nice. This is "Hippolyte," an old rose that's the first to bloom in my garden. It flowers just once a year, but what a show, and with a fragrance that knocks you down.|
|Boat-wise, we're starting to think, Do we really need to sail? We watch as power boats zip by and we try to feel smug because after all, the wind is free. But. Do we really need to get there last? This little anchorage, one of the snuggest in New England, always fills up fast. Hmm. Time, maybe, to do different math.|
|Summer was fun, despite often going nowhere slowly at great expense on our boat. Summer is always fun, because summer is when family comes to Newport to swim in water warm enough that you can still feel your toes when you come out. (Not so Lake Michigan. Not so the Pacific. If I do say so.) College is becoming a factor with the youngest kids, though, so my fingers are always crossed that they'll come out at least one more time. So far, so good.|
|Fall was unbelievable this year. This was taken on the Jamestown shore. Jamestown is on the next island over, and we were peddling around, enjoying the rural ambience of the place. John is checking tire pressure (he's always doing things like that) while I stare at the two cruise ships anchored in Newport Harbor just down the hill from where we live and think, Do we really have to steer a boat at all? Apparently there are people out there who do that stuff for you. Hmm.|
|Here we are are the latest wedding, dancing. Dancing! Some people dance all the time, just for the fun of it, but we require a wedding. Trouble is, the next generation is mostly married now. We wait anxiously, tapping our toes, for the rest to grow up.|
|So, all in all, a very good year. Tears of joy, it turns out, are much more uplifting to shed than tears of sadness. And, I forgot to mention the cats. They're good.|