The truck gobbled up the miles on Highway 94W, and I sipped my latté in the passenger seat. I slid on a pair of sunglasses and eyed the snowless landscape flying by outside the window. Our family of five was all together, something that was growing harder as the once littles matured into bigs. Across state lines and on the other side of the day awaited more family in Valley City, North Dakota.
I turned my gaze to our teenagers in the back seat. “What are you thankful for, girls? Let’s each say something.”
“Food,” Ricka said, popping a French fry into her mouth.
“My dog,” Dicka said.
The day before, I had driven Lala, the family dog, to meet our friend Trixie who agreed to watch her for us over the Thanksgiving holiday. During the transfer at a place in Woodbury, our exuberant animal bounded from the car and hurtled through the open door of Trixie’s Jeep. The canine wagged her entire body, and I already knew what she was thankful for: three days of playtime with Trixie’s Great Dane, Sarge.
“And that dog left me pretty easily yesterday,” I said. “What am I, chopped liver?”
“If you were,” Flicka said, “she would’ve stayed.”
“I’ve got another thing,” Ricka announced. “I’m thankful for my sisters.”
Flicka smirked. “I’m so glad you thought of us after food.”
But Ricka was on a roll. “And I’m glad I passed my driver’s test after three tries.”
“You’ve said three things already,” Dicka said to Ricka. “Hey, stop touching my blanket.”
I shifted my focus to Dicka. “Anything else to add?”
“I’m just gonna stick with my dog, I guess.”
“I’m thankful I have a good relationship with my family and that God has helped me figure out what I’m doing in life,” Flicka said.
Behind the wheel, Husband straightened, tweaked the rearview mirror, and peered into it. “He has?”
Flicka tilted her head and shot him a look.
“Okay, I’m thankful for my family,” Husband said. “And for friends who make going to work enjoyable.”
“I have one more thing,” Ricka said, waving her hand. “My heart is beating, and I’m breathing. So that’s good.”
She laughed, but her words lodged in my chest. Heartbeats and breaths—the essence of our time in skin. The gift of momentary life.
For in him we live and move and have our being.
Life in a family: our hearts beat in sync as we make our plans, and our lungs breathe together through whatever days we’re given.
Car rides laced with happy chaos along the way are good too. They’re very good.
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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.