My unusual Christmas gift to myself this year involves three separate family dinner events. Three family households live in the snowy north of Minnesota: son Ben and his wife Tina, grandson Marcel, his wife Phaedra plus Zander and Izzy, and grandson Jeffrey, his wife Christy plus Rory, Teegan and Jarvis. Flurries of fun fill the house when we are all together. But with everyone chattering and laughing, I am more apt to sit back and observe all the commotion and maybe have a good conversation with only two or three.

I suggested that each family go out to dinner with me to a restaurant of their choosing. Tuesday evening Marcel and family pick me up and we drive north “beyond the edge of town.” With comments of, “We don’t drive out this far,” we arrive at the Triä restaurant in North Oaks, Minnesota. Seated near the fireplace we enjoy time studying the menu and discussing options with our waiter, Basil. A relaxed meal of escargots, a variety of entrees, desserts and different age-appropriate drinks allows plenty of time for fun sharing of stories. The story of Marcel and Phaedra meeting in college particularly intrigued me. Great fun listening to Zander and Izzy telling about school adventures. A table of five people is easier to converse with than a houseful of twelve folks. Although I wouldn’t miss the “all-together” moments for anything. Families are special and I hurt for those who are missing folks or couldn’t travel to see their love-ones.

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