Had 2020 been like any other year, my son Vinnie and his wife Danni would be celebrating his birthday in a New Zealand vineyard today.
Instead, despite the visas they obtained, money they saved and plans they made for this exciting move they are (and there’s really no better verb for it) stuck here, splitting their time between our cabin Up North, our house in Appleton and Danni’s family home in Bismarck, North Dakota.
While they still aim to head toward their dream jobs at some point, they are remarkably chipper about their current situation. In fact, they have been Chippering and Johanna Gaines-ing their way through our house with such gusto we hardly recognize the place anymore (and neither will Vinnie’s sisters when they see what’s become of their bedrooms).
They deep-cleaned and organized each room, a task so apparently singular it turned up some real relics, including a note written by 10-year old Charlie (who is now 33) and someone’s middle school diary. Then they primed and painted each room, stripped and sanded a giant old dresser and moved large pieces of furniture around the upstairs like a couple of bruisers.
We’re still midway through this spontaneous remodel and I’m so impressed with the results. Sometimes, Vinnie’s ready smile and easy charm belie his impressive work ethic, and Danni is the same way. They are extremely task-oriented and still know how to have fun.
This is the second time in this confounding pandemic that I have been blessed by some temporarily clipped wings and a return to our ready nest and I am so incredibly grateful for this time.
Today, as I serve our stranded travelers some New Zealand wine and the requested birthday banana cream pie, I will be thankful for every imaginary candle on that pie and every precious year they represent. (Imaginary because, gross! What were we thinking having people blow germs all over the tops of our delicious baked birthday treats and then dishing up pieces to everyone? 2020 has taught me a lot and not just how to wash my hands more thoroughly).
Today, though, is all about joy and a sense of gratitude I can barely contain for the gift of my son and his beautiful (and very handy) bride.
Happy birthday, Vinnie! We love you.