Eliza peered around the table grinning at her beautiful family. Having everyone at home for dinner at the same time was such a rare and blessed occurrence. Harvestfest had always been her favorite holiday. It was a welcomed break in the monotony and stress to take stock of one’s life and search for the good. In the times when her past haunted her, or when it seemed her career had stalled, counting blessings was one of the few things that kept her grounded.
“While we wait for the food, why don’t we go around the table and say what we are grateful for? I’ll begin. I am grateful to have a loving family to come home to when life gives me lemons. Breanne?”
“I’m grateful I don’t have to spend the rest of my life with the wrong person!”
Eliza quickly glanced at Robert who seemed equally surprised. As much as she wanted to inquire on the matter, Harvestfest dinner was certainly not the time. “Yes,” she cleared her throat, “that’s great, dear. Lexi?”
“I’m grateful for this perfect dinner and straight A’s again this week!”
“That’s wonderful, dear! Well done! What about you, Lily?”
“I’m grateful for my parents,” she said just above a whisper.
Eliza almost lost her composure. For everything she had done wrong, and everyone she hurt, this sweet innocent being still loved and respected her. There were so many lessons in that.
“Oh, Lily. How sweet!” She was so glad Robert jumped in for she was unsure she could move on.
“I’m grateful for my wife and how our lives changed once all you beautiful ladies came along.”
Eliza’s composure was saved by the oven timer. Her family certainly did a number on her further proving why she was so grateful for them. Robert retrieved the ham from the oven and sliced it up while everyone served themselves. And, for the first time in forever, they ate and enjoyed each other’s company.
After dinner, Robert gathered the dishes, further shocking Eliza’s system. He hated most chores, but washing dishes was the one thing he refused to do. The holidays certainly brought out the best in people.
When the kitchen sparkled, food was stowed away, and the girls were fast asleep, Robert and Lizzie sat together for a moment before bed. “Are you ok?” he asked.
She nodded. “I’m thinking.”
She exhaled a satisfying breath. “What I’m most grateful for.”
“Yeah? What’s that?”
Something about the holidays brought out the sappy Eliza. She hated it and embraced it at the same time. “You. I don’t tell you enough.”
He smiled and diverted his eyes to the floor.
“It’s true. Each day, I wake up next to a man who loves me despite how many times I’ve hurt him. I keep thinking, one day, I’m going to go too far. One day, I’ll wake up and he won’t be there. But, every day, you’re there.
“When I think about my life and what I used to want, what happened, and how things turned out, I’m not quite sure how I even deserve you.”
“I know what I’ve done, Robert. I do not deserve you. I really do live a charmed life. It’s not exactly the life I imaged I’d have, but it’s a great life. All I really need to do is clean and make a salary. You cook and decorate this house so beautifully. People assume I do it and give me the credit, but I can’t take it. And, the children! You are so good with them. Far better than me. I simply do not know what I’d do with you, Robert.
“I suppose what I’m meaning to say is…” The words got stuck in her throat as the nerves began to fray. She hadn’t said them in so long it felt like the first time. He deserved to hear them. They were long overdue. “I love you.”
“I know. I love you too.”