"He’s perfect," Aunt Toogie remarked.
My lovely wife, Grace, replied, "That’s just how Jane described him."
Grace and Toogie were poring over photographs of our newest grandson,
Cole Thomas, born a couple of weeks ago to our daughter Jane and her husband, Eric. Grace and I had made a quick pilgrimage, arriving with a pile of presents and departing with a passel of photos, to meet Cole. Neither Grace nor Toogie looked up from the pictures spread across the kitchen table as I made my way toward the coffee pot.
"Look at his smile in this one," Grace giggled.
"Don’t you think he has Jane’s lips?" Toogie asked.
"Either of you want a refill?" I inquired.
Neither answered, as they remained engrossed, earnestly absorbing the images of Cole. I took a seat beside them while the unabated baby banter continued.
"He has so much hair," Toogie observed.
Grace peered closer at the picture. "It seems to have a hint of red, but I wonder if he will be blond like his parents."
"You’re such a sweet little Thanksgiving baby," Toogie cooed, addressing the photo in her hand.
"We are thankful for that, aren’t we Dear?" Grace responded, turning toward me.
Interpreting the eye contact as permission to join the Cole circle, I replied, "Yep."
"Thank you for your effusive eloquence this morning, Pop-Pop," Grace smirked.
"He’ll warm up once he has had his jolt of java," Toogie snickered adding,
"By the way, Dalton, I opened one of your bottles of wine yesterday."
I looked up and mumbled only, "Oh?"
"My bridge club was here at the house and some of the ladies wanted a glass of wine. Anyway, Grace had given me a bottle of white wine to open, but some wanted red so I took one from your wine cooler."
"Okay," I shrugged, blowing on my coffee to cool it.
"The empty bottle is in the trash. The name was, I think, Ridge something."
"Ridge?" I bellowed, spewing coffee across the table and jumping to my feet.
"Not the Ridge Monte Bello!" I gasped. "Please don’t let it be the 1991 Ridge Monte Bello!"
"See, I told you he would wake up once he had some coffee," Toogie quipped to Grace as I rushed to the trash bin.
"Oh, thank goodness," I sighed, a hand on my forehead, inspecting the empty bottle retrieved from the trash.
"Are you all right?" Grace asked.
"It’s Burnet Ridge," I explained, "from Ohio. Thankfully, not the Ridge Vineyard from the Santa Cruz Mountains of California."
"Shucks," muttered Toogie.
"I’m glad you still have your treasured wine," Grace proclaimed, pausing for effect. "Yet, may I ask? Is that what you are really thankful for?"
"Yeah," I sputtered. "I’m pretty darn thankful to still have that wine. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion."
"But is it the thing for which you are most thankful this Thanksgiving?" Grace queried.
Sensing the conversation careening in a new direction, I clammed up and stared at the floor.
"Better get him another cup of coffee," Toogie barked. "Sounds like he’s running a bit low."
Grace patted the chair next to her. "Sit down, Dear," she suggested, taking my hand as I eased into the seat.
"The way I see it," Grace continued, "we have so much to be thankful for. We have good health, a wonderful family and a great circle of friends. We are reasonably secure in our home and our lives, and have activities to engage and delight us. We have the opportunity to give back to others in our chosen ways – you with your Rotary Club, me at the school, and Toogie at hospice."
When I smiled, Grace added, "Wouldn’t you agree that those are the things to be truly thankful for?"
I wiped my eye and answered, "Sure."
"He’s a man of few words," Toogie growled.
"But the right words," Grace grinned. "Plus, we have an added reason to be thankful and to celebrate this year – the blessing of a brand new life. Little Baby Cole."
Before I could reply, Toogie chortled, "I’ll drink to that. In fact, because we’re celebrating, let’s drink Dalton’s bottle of Monte whatever for Thanksgiving!"
"What a splendid idea!" Grace smiled. Taking both of my hands, she asked, "What do you say, Dear? Cole’s birth is certainly a special once-in-a-lifetime occasion."
"Having Thanksgiving dinner with Grace and me is pretty special, too," Toogie added.
I paused, smiled, and answered, "Sure," knowing it was both the correct and prudent reply.
Later that day, as Grace and Toogie reviewed their list of shopping and chores to prepare for Thanksgiving, I picked up the stack of photographs the two of them had gone gaga over a few hours earlier. All newborns look a little wrinkly to me. Well, not in all these pictures. Grace and Toogie were correct. In several photos, Cole looked somewhat contemplative. In another, he sported a wry smile. Probably, it was just gas, but maybe not. Perhaps he was just happy and content knowing he was born into a fine family who will love him completely and forever, including his Pop-Pop who also has a special surprise for him. Grace and Toogie don’t know it, but I have two bottles of the exquisite 1991 Ridge Monte Bello. Sure, we’ll drink one now to toast Cole’s birth. The other will be safely stored for another special occasion. God willing, sometime around the year 2035 Grace, yours truly and the remaining bottle of Ridge Monte Bello will still be robust and ready for Cole’s wedding celebration.