This Thanksgiving was unlike any other. Each year, we either invited people to join us, or we were the guests. This time, however, we stayed home and made a feast for just the three of us. The night before, Ania had baked a pumpkin pie, whipped a delicious coconut cream pie, and put her baker’s skills to the test with a Polish apple pie variation, known as “szarlotka.” Today, as I was setting the table, I spared no effort to make it as beautiful as possible to showcase our delicious food. That’s when I had a realization that this was a perfect moment. Earlier, I took my time to iron a new tablecloth and place the tea lights inside the candleholders on the table. The girls watched a movie while I was chopping squash, and getting our turkey seasoned. There was no hurry, and there were no expectations. My heart was content when I listened to Alexandra’s animated voice relating to me a plot of a movie, while, with a corner of my eye, I could see Ania getting ready. They were happy and so were I. The whole day was comfortably slow, undemanding, and it felt flawless. It was just the three of us, and we were enough. We were a family. We were creating our happy memories. The moment was magical and I was aware of it as it was happening.
After dinner, we went to a park. The sun was setting and I could observe its last rays against the dark silhouettes of the trees. The beauty of the scene took my breath away. The view was familiar. It reminded me of something I thought I had lost long ago, yet I couldn’t pinpoint what that was. I could hear the girls’ happy voices reverberating in the empty park. Suddenly, it dawned on me, this was a memory of the dark, leafless trees that I used to observe as a teenager, waiting at a bus stop for a bus to take me home, back in Poland. As eerie as it sounds, the view of the trees transported me back there, to the place and time of my childhood. The memory soon faded away and I was back here, in the park with my daughters, aware of my surroundings again. For the first time ever, I felt I belonged here… finally.