I lift the blinds on the side door. The room feels suddenly chill and I shiver. I continue to sort clothes into piles. When I am done, there are three. I start the washer and the sound of the walkie-talkie startles me. The twins are sitting next to each other on the sofa and talking to each other on their handsets. I am tempted to tell them to turn it off. My mind cries that they are draining the batteries, that the point of walkie-talkies is that the two people are in separate locations. I tamp down on the impulse and watch them giggle and exchange inane things.
The house is littered with bits of wrapping paper. There are boxes that once housed things lying in odd places. I am half convinced I should go through the house with a giant trash bag and put everything I see in it. I push that thought down and pay my attention to the sink. There are empty suitcases lining the wall on the way to the basement. I feel tired all of a sudden.
I just want to sink into my comfy chair in the study and relive the weekend. So, I do just that. We left, the whole family packed into our minivan, the trunk overflowing with colorful boxes and bags. We stopped a stranger’s home on our way. I say ‘stranger’ because I have only ever exchanged emails with this lady. She had read my article this summer on Huff post and reached out. Our families are similar she said, we should meet sometime. That sometime turned out to be this week. We messaged, made plans and decided on a brunch at her home. We drove up and were greeted with holly bushes boasting ornaments and a giant Santa on her door.
We talked, ate, our children played together. We left bearing cookies and gifts and just like that, a stranger became a friend. An hour later, we were at my cousin’s home. Six kids, six adults and an evening filled with chatter. The table groaned with the weight of the food. My niece baked me a beautiful cake. I felt cherished, loved and celebrated.
Birthday dawned early and we head out to the temple. There is something about stopping at each sannidhi, bowing my head and just absorbing the energy of the place. While the rest of the group did their own versions of prayer. I sat on the marble floor, pattu beside me. I closed my eyes and just sat there meditating. When I opened my eyes, I found my daughter mirroring my pose and my faith.
As we left, we each helped ourselves to chakara pongal prasadam and battled a biting cold to ferry ourselves to the local Indo-Chinese restaurant Mings. We gorged on food, watched our children try new flavors and stopped at Sukadias for a sweet fix.
Back home, I unpacked, made dinner and packed the kids off to bed before settling in to my latest Netflix binge.
Birthdays are special to me. I celebrate others when their day arrives and so it was truly a blessing to be celebrated the way I was this year.