This family of turkeys has been patrolling our neighborhood for weeks. There are five in all, and lately they have taken to roosting outside our ground-level basement window.

We first spotted them over the summer: two adults, three chicks. Now we can’t tell who is who.

They stick together, these five. And when they appear in our yard, I always check to make sure each one is present and accounted for.

They remind me that this year, Thanksgiving will be markedly different for Paul and me. Like other years, we will be sharing the meal with friends, but for the first time ever, neither of our sons will be at our table.

Older Son will be celebrating with his girlfriend’s family in Connecticut, and Younger Son will be cooking and eating dinner with a group of fellow Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco.

While this change makes me a little sad, I’ve begun to embrace the new order. Planning a meal and hanging out with friends—without the pressures of family—is a lot of fun. And this year, just like our sons, Paul and I will be doing that too.

I know I will miss them. Especially Younger Son, who is so far away and won’t be home for Christmas either. But I also know that the love they feel when they sit at our table will be with them on this day too.

Both of our boys have grown into loved men. They carry home with them wherever they go.

For that, I am truly grateful.

Photos courtesy of Judith A. Ross.