I Am Thankful: 2013 365 Challenge #333

Driving to the beach

Driving to the beach

Since my sister moved to the States a few years ago, and I linked up with my husband’s American cousin on Facebook, I’ve become more aware of the American holidays. Mostly we don’t celebrate them over here. Hallowe’en is only starting to take off, and Valentine’s Day was only significant in high school. Thanksgiving doesn’t happen at all, except on social media. But Thanksgiving is probably my favourite. I love the idea of a day to be thankful.

Christmas is one of my favourite holidays, but it’s always slighly marred by commercialism and the fact that I’m not particularly religious. But you don’t have to believe in God to be thankful.

Like saying “I love you” to my husband every day, rather just on February 14th, I do try to be grateful every day for what I have, although it’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily minutae of tedium and routine. Taking time to look around and acknowledge what is good is essential.

So, I am thankful. I’m thankful for my gorgeous husband and beautiful, clever, loving children. I’m grateful for my lovely house and my crazy dog. I’m grateful for a wonderful family. I’m thankful that my husband found work and we have enough money to buy the things we need. I’m grateful that I can write every day, and for the followers of my blog and the people who download my novels who keep me motivated. I’m thankful for sun and rain and fog, and being able to spend time outdoors everyday. For supermarkets and fresh fruit, chocolate and coffee. For my ipad and books and my car that lets me take my children out and about without hassle. I’m grateful for so much I could write and write. But maybe a few pictures will tell a thousand words.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire gazed out across the ocean and sighed. She could feel the entire country stacked up behind her, looking over her shoulder. She felt like she’d come a long way since her beginning in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, at the top of England.

“Are you alright, Auntie Claire?” Jack walked over to where she stood and hooked his arm through hers, his eyes dark with concern. The expression made him look much older than his ten years.

Claire patted his hand, touched at his surprising empathy. Two weeks ago she barely knew the boy, but they had become friends during their time travelling together in Cornwall.

“I’m fine, Jack, thank you for asking. It’s been a good couple of weeks, don’t you think?”

“The best! I can’t believe father’s coming to get us tomorrow. The time’s gone really fast. We didn’t even get to do everything. Did you know there’s a surf school here? Maybe we should go for just one last blast?”

Claire looked over to where Alex stood, his gaze on the phone in his hands rather than the amazing view from the end of the land.

“I’m not sure Alex would appreciate that. At least he’s happy that you’re going home.”

“He’s only happy because he gets to see his girlfriend again.” Jack put the emphasis of a ten-year-old on the word; clearly disgusted at his brother’s betrayal of all things male.

“That’s understandable. Two weeks is a long time when you’re twelve.” Claire smiled fondly at the moody boy standing along the cliff. She couldn’t claim to have broken through his tough barriers, but she had come to care for her eldest nephew more than she could have imagined possible a fortnight before.

“What about you, Jack?” She added, after a moment’s silence. “Will you be glad to get home?”

Her nephew stood silent for a while, and Claire wondered if he didn’t want to hurt her feelings by admitting he was looking forward to leaving. She was about to tell him it was natural to prefer his home and family and friends to an Aunt he barely knew, when he turned to face her. His cheeks burned red, and his eyes glistened.

“I’d much rather stay here with you,” he blurted out. “I don’t want to go home. Mother’s been wrapped up in her own little bubble since Dad left. She leaves us with the Au Pair and goes shopping or to the spa with her friends. And Father, well, that’s a joke. He’s so busy with his new lady friend I think he’s forgotten we exist.”

Claire raised her eyebrows at the news that Jack knew all about Robert’s new relationship.

I don’t know why I’m surprised. They’re bright boys and he’s hardly been discreet.

She wrapped her arm around Jack’s shoulder and pulled him into a hug, unsure what to say. The prospect of having the boys stay longer wasn’t anywhere near as terrible as it would have been two weeks earlier, but there was no doubt in her mind she was looking forward to some time by herself. It wasn’t even that the boys were an onerous responsibility – certainly not on the scale of caring for Sky – and they were good company, when they weren’t fighting. But, still, being responsible for someone else’s happiness took its toll.

“How about school? Will you be glad to go back there, after the long vacation?”

Jack shrugged. “I guess.”

Claire’s heart twisted at the empty resignation in his voice.

“Well, you’re welcome to come and visit any time. I have no idea where I’ll be, but if there’s a bed or floor for you two to sleep on, then it’s yours.”

She was surprised to discover that she meant it.

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