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On Thanksgiving, we passed the baby around. We took turns holding her, swaying her in our arms. We ate cheese and crackers, and then we held the baby. We brought platters of green beans to the table, and we held the baby. We discussed politics, careful not to go too full bore in any direction. We held the baby.

The baby seized our fingers reflexively. That line from an e.e. cummings poem came to mind: nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands. The baby smiled, cried, gnawed on a toy, bobbed her tiny head. When our arms grew tired, we passed the baby back to her mother, who took the infant as if she had just given birth and was holding her for the first time—body-weary, brimming, beaming.

In this way, in the holding and the passing of the baby, we had a glimpse of what it might be to be a family. Or a country.


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