Two days from now, the Big Valley will be full up.
My parents and my brother will be here, along with two thirds of my three sons, my husband, his two sons, a one-time girlfriend, her mother, and a new baby daughter. The artist couple who rents the house my husband used to live in before he married me will probably stop by for dessert, and so will some other friends from the township.
There will be dogs. There will be wine. And we'll open the last bottle of leftover wedding champagne.
If we are lucky, my father will give the blessing and then read a Maya Angelou poem, like he did a few years ago, plesantly shocking us all from his patriarchal spot up there at the head of the table.
There will be gluten-free pies and a high chair and baby cereal and an organic bird from Circle B Turkey Ranch and my mother's applesauce and a Fiestaware gravy boat filled to the top. There will be football and there will be naps.
And in this pause before my favorite holiday I'm feeling the gratitude. For a life that includes all these good souls and for a home that draws them in. For the table in another home with other people where my oldest son will be sharing a meal and helping to plan the menu for a new restaurant. For one day together.
And for the words from that Maya Angelou poem that might have been written as a lament but that when spoken by my father, seem more reverent than sad: "Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone."