Yesterday we hosted Thanksgiving at our place. It makes it easier for us in many ways to be home, as I love to cook and Emma can race around on her scooter while the rest of us enjoy each other’s company and later sit down to a thanksgiving feast. Whenever we have a large celebratory gathering at our house, I put out a place setting for Emma, even though we know she won’t sit and eat any of the food I’ve prepared. As I set the table yesterday afternoon, I allowed myself to imagine for a minute what it would be like to have all of us gathered for a meal, something I looked forward to with almost frenzied excitement as a child. Not so with Emma. Unless birthday cake is being served and then only if it’s vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, Emma can be counted on to forgo the meal. Since she also cannot communicate in any substantial way, there is absolutely no allure for her to sit with us and we’ve given up insisting that she try.
So it was yesterday as our guests began to arrive, Emma in her “pretty dress” which actually was a taffeta skirt with tulle and a black turtleneck. Emma insisted on yanking the skirt down around her hips so the gap between where the turtleneck ended and the waistband of the skirt began was substantial, giving the whole ensemble a kind of weird, grungy chic. She shot around the living room on her scooter, while Nic joined us for conversation and hors d’oeuvres.
“Edie bring Toni books?” Emma asked as I was pulling the turkey out of the oven, checking on the nearly burned roasted vegetables and wondering whether I had ruined the meal, while the mashed potatoes warmed in the oven and the brussel sprouts were being sauted on the stove.
“What?” I asked.
“Edie bring Toni books?” Emma repeated.
“Who’s Edie?” one of our guests inquired.
“He delivers UPS packages.”
“Edie come?” Emma asked.
“Yes, Em, let’s order some books tomorrow and Edie can deliver them. But you have to tell me what books you want,” I said.
“Edie come? Edie bring Toni books?”
It’s not clear why Emma has equated my sister or someone else with the name Toni, with getting books. The last book Edie delivered for Emma was a book we couldn’t find at Barnes & Noble, so ordered online a few months ago. Ever since, but recently with increasing excitement Emma has been requesting that Edie deliver books to her. We have asked her numerous times to specify what book she is hoping to receive, with little success.
Eventually Emma gave up and contented herself with listening to music on her ipod only reappearing at the end of the meal. “Dinner is all done,” Emma announced.
We had retired to the living room so no one was offended and thankfully she did not start bringing people their coats. “Yes, Em. That’s right. Dinner is over now,” I said.
“Emma blow out the candles?” Emma said as she leaned over the dining room table and blew a candle out.
“Yes, Em. Go ahead.” After which, Emma could be heard singing loudly to various music videos in her bedroom.
“Wow! She really has a great sense of rhythm,” one of our guests noted.
This morning I went online with Emma and she chose several books, which I ordered and expect will be delivered in another week or so. “Edie bring Emma books?” Emma said when we finished the checkout process.
“Yes!” I said. “You should get them in another week.”
“Next week,” Emma said, nodding her head.
“Go to gymnastics?” Emma said.
I didn’t know that Emma sometimes brought guests their coats as soon as the meal is over. Did I ever tell you that that is what Eunice Kennedy Shriver used to do when she thought it was time for everyone to go home so that she could get into bed and read? One time she even had all of us playing Blind Man’s Buff, and then escorted out the apartment, coats in hand to the elevator before she went back into their apartment and firmly shut the door.