It wasn't quite midnight when we got back to the hotel room.
There were minutes left to go, but pajama-clad kids in the rooms on either side of us were already yelling Happy New Year! as they dashed from room to room. Other kids in another room peered into the hallway from a barely open door, wishing they were part of the celebration out there.
We opened the door and began to get ready for bed, turning on the television for the last few minutes of the countdown, first watching the celebration in Toronto and then New York City.
When the glowing ball reached the bottom and the crowd began to cheer, Trudy looked at me and smiled. Ben was standing shirtless in a pair of sweatpants, looking at us as Trudy walked towards me.
As Trudy got near enough for us to hug, Ben dashed from his place on the other side of the room and inserted himself betweem is. And what was going to be a hug and a Happy New Year kiss became a family group hug saying hello to 2006.
Dec 2005 holidays in Ottawa
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Dinner went late into the night.
The bread and meats and rice, the sweet gulab jamin and fragrant cantaloupe, the hot chai, and the conversations (one at the adult-end of the table, and another at the kid-end) kept everyone distracted while the hours ticked away. In the blink of an eye, it was time to go.
As the adults pulled the final conversations together and began saying goodbyes, the kids gathered on one side of the table in an amorphous group. There were teenage girls looking like queens. There were young boys speaking in lordly tones. One boy wore a suit coat. Another was in a very comfortable pair of jeans.
Group hug, said a voice from somewhere in their midst, and the amorphous group reformed into a circle.
They jockeyed around a bit, some choosing one place and then another, and the circle adjusted to the changes. After a few moments, they stabilized.
From Canada from Britain and from the United States, tall and short, boy and girl, related and not, the kids put their arms around each other as if they had known each other forever, and they bowed their heads to the center.
And they said goodbye.
Dec 2005 holiday gathering in Ottawa
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