Blustery winds buffet the expansive windows as snow piles up at the front door.  The house’s denizens peer giddily outside, biologically compelled to get restless when winter storms deliver their goods.  Momentarily distracted from a rousing game of dominoes, they are fueled by the plethora of snacks that have long characterized the pantry and ruined many an appetite.  With wide eyes, these folks hypothesize snow totals, rearrange Monday morning to accommodate the avocation that has been at the center of this brood for many decades.  This is my family, my lifeblood, the people that I love so intensely that even imagining life without them renders me sullen and scared.

A highly active and secular clan, Sunday evenings have become our sacred refuge, a time to reconnect, to relax, to remind ourselves again how lucky we are to have three generations living in this Valley.  With my brother and sister-in-law and their two kids now happily settled in Amsterdam, our Sunday gatherings are incomplete, their absence acutely felt, the pitter-patter of my niece and nephew missed with grief tinged with the joyous knowledge that they are where they need to be.  While we dream that future Sundays may include that foursome, for now we have to satisfy ourselves with their visits home and our trips to see their European lifestyle firsthand.

As the clock starts rolling to the mid-afternoon, Violet and I make our way up the Wildridge hill to my parents’ house.  That is not the exclusive location for our Sunday services, but it is the most common for multiple reasons, chief among them the extensive liquor cabinet and the fact that it is the home kitchen of my father, an extremely talented cook.  As we enter the house, we greet each other theatrically, which might be ridiculous given that it is very likely that it has been no more than a day or two since we have been together, if not skied as an ensemble an hour before.  But this is a family not shy about expressing affection, which is not only heartwarming, but also a bulwark against any regrets that may manifest in the event of some unforeseen tragedy or the inevitable workings of time.

Soon thereafter, I break out the cocktail accoutrements and fix drinks while my mother prepares the hors d’oeuvres.  Violet chats with Pops in the kitchen while he prepares his mise en place.  The vibe is casual, loving, silly, perfect.  For my child to have such an easy rapport with her grandparents is an irreplaceable blessing.  The love in which they ensconce her is tangible, the molecules of affection and care floating in the ether like so many cherubs and guardians.  It is an extension of the critical support that they have given to me since birth, but especially over the past few years, when I would not have survived, let alone thrived, without the bedrock of my mother and father.  Sunday is a time for me to have a mild break, to be coddled, to reenergize for the arduous emotional and physical week ahead.

Eventually, despite having mainlined multitudes of morsels, the tantalizing smells emanating from the kitchen become overwhelming and we must sit for dinner.  We assume our usual seats, with me facing Pops, Violet to my right, and Mom to my left; the default quadrangle.  Gourmands and gluttons, we are soon off to the gustatory races, the rotating cast of classic dishes no match for our appetites.  Guests at the Sunday table often remark that it is challenging to get a word in edgewise; the rhythms of our familial speech patterns hard to interrupt, especially since our decorum could be better:  there is a lot of talking with food in our mouths.  Or, maybe that is just me?  But, regardless of our intensity, these visitors unfailingly appreciate the genuine hospitality and readily apparent mutual affection.  Sunday dinner with the Voborils may not be fancy, but it is the hottest ticket in town, as far as we are concerned.

Being a school night, we do have to be mindful of bedtimes, although we inevitably leave Sunday dinner later than anticipated.  Such is the lovely burden of being around people without whom you cannot live.  On the drive home, we debrief the important conversations, the funny anecdotes, and generally bask in the permeating love.  By the time that we drift off to sleep, we are ready to face anything that may present itself in the days to come.

A stubborn individualist, I am nonetheless a direct product of the tight-knit family that I have the great fortune to have nearby.  I know that most of the pilgrims to this community are not similarly situated and that makes me extra thankful.  Just know that, if you are feeling lonely, there is a table out there for you; we have a lot of love to share!

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