Thanksgiving morning I took a beautiful run through the woods with my younger brother Jake —the leaves had fallen on the bridge and I said let’s take a picture but we didn’t bring our phones.

In the afternoon I coached Dezi through green bean casserole and Chaz through sweet potato soufflé. They are nearly independent chefs, needing only the slightest reminders to clean up. They don’t like photos, but trust me they are pretty handsome making their dishes.

Dinner was delicious—this year ham and no turkey, and the only one disappointed was Nico who ate mostly bread. But that’s okay when it’s your birthday.

We sang out happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you even as the food comas threatened our consciousness. I forgot to record digitally but I swear he decapitated the icing on that red velvet cupcake and ate just under two bites before an early bedtime. In the middle of the night, he’d wake up and whisper to me, “I’m finally nine,” a reference to being born at 10:43 pm.

I even had time to snuggle with Kyle and watch football on the couch.

No pictures, but it’s all stored carefully away, more detailed than any sleepy blog post would allow, and it all happened and I got to be there and feel glad and find myself in the flickering candles with thoughts aplenty about both the regret and celebration of time passing, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, depending on the shape or your hourglass.

So cheers to 2017 and to the one picture I did take, which now I see shimmering as a token from the past, waving like a flag that I must stake in the ground. For these empty spots represent the space I hold for each of these people in my heart, and when they are in my presence, I am full.