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We had a huge pecan tree near the pig pin, and one of my holiday chores was shelling nuts for the ambrosia. I loved my task. I'd eat more pecan halves than went into the bowl. Except for my two older sisters, the family members who gathered around that table have all passed on. The younger sister now hosts the family feast in her home. A few years back I had the privilege of flying home for Thanksgiving and sharing their holiday feast. Before blessing the food she asked each family member gathered around her table to name something for which they were grateful. I was deeply moved by the responses. The blessing came next, then the fun began as bowls and platters passed from hand to hand until everyone's plate was filled. Then silverware began to clatter as compliments on the good food were tossed out for the cook responsible to acknowledge.
Have you ever listened closely to the conversations going on above the feast? If you're from a large family you know what I mean. One aunt finishes her husband's sentences. A child interrupts his mother to announce "I don't like milk, I wanted juice," and his mother pours juice for him without missing a beat of the conversation she's sharing with an uncle. More voices start more conversations as stomachs fill. The volume of noise is barely tolerable, but no one complains. In our family this only happens twice a year in our family and it's obvious the attendees wouldn't miss it. The teasing, the concerned interest, the love flowing around the dining table like the river of hot food flowed earlier warmed my heart. Our home in California has become the gathering place for my family's feast. In the seventies I bought a dining table that seated fourteen to make us more comfortable when everybody came home for the holidays.
Twenty years later I decided I was getting too old to host big gatherings and gave that table away. It didn't change a thing, they all still come and I've lived to regret my haste. Right after Halloween my daughters start emailing, wanting to know what our holiday plans are, interpreted, Will you be there so we can have Thanksgiving with you? I don't know why. The menu never changes. We're all traditionalist, and everyone would complain if just one item was missing from the table, especially the 'green stuff,' a congealed salad with pineapple, sour cream and nuts. One year the daughter who lives four hours away invited everyone to her house for the feast. Most of us drove up that morning and spent the night. The oven caught fire while the turkey was baking, and my car was rear-ended going through LA. We arrived late, the Volvo's luggage compartment was jammed and for a while we were unable to get out the cranberries, but the feast went on as planned. I've decided it's not what you put on the table, but those gathered around it that determines the quality of the feast, the blessing for which I am most grateful. The one for which I give thanks.
Reclusive Jenny Hamilton wants only to be left alone. Afraid to venture far from her modern cabin in the Eastern Sierras, this widow and writer endures a solitary existence caring for her animals until Tom Driscoll washes up in the creek. She rescues the unconscious man, and when his injuries heal, he helps Jenny overcome her fear of men, the result of an abusive marriage.
Tom saves her from the burly intruder intent on rape who traumatizes Jenny. Her earlier fears come flooding back, convincing her there is no man she should trust. She sends Tom away with the sheriff who comes to pick up their prisoner.
When Jenny realizes Tom has taught her to feel again, she reaches out to him. He rushes back to her side, and she promises never to send him away again.
Love the cover and congratulations on the new book! Toni, thanks again for guesting and sharing with us your thoughts on Thanksgiving and about your new book.
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