My French family arrives tomorrow for a weeklong visit. Seven people are coming–some have even already begun their journey west–and I’m excited. I’m ready.

You’d never know I’m ready by looking at my to-do list. I haven’t even started cleaning my house. My pantry is empty. I haven’t assembled a menu for the day I’ve been assigned to feed everyone. I can’t say more than a few basic phrases in French, and my ear can’t striate spoken phrases into the individual words I need to grasp. But I can’t wait.

I just know that somehow everything will work itself out. I can fake the house cleaning (that’s why I have closets, right?). One whirlwind trip to the supermarket will erase my pantry woes. Menu, schmenu. Cooking for a crowd doesn’t scare me. The language deficit leaves me a little apprehensive, but we’ll manage.

Hugs and smiles and tears and charades and photographs and gestures. That’s how we’ll communicate. We’ll dance to the basic rhythm of life–wake, eat, observe, sleep–and we’ll fill in the silences with our willingness to try. We’ll communicate with our hearts, watch the kids play, and toast with our wineglasses. Our interaction may be life’s basic box step, but we’ll be dancing together.

Yes, I still believe that words matter. I also believe that, though we don’t share a common language, the words will eventually come and we’ll all make beautiful music together–without missing a beat.

Bienvenue ma famille! Come quickly, Christian, Valerie, Virginie, Alicia, Kesia, Anthony, and Lisa. My house isn’t perfect and I can’t speak your language, but I’m ready!

P.S. If we really get desperate, we can fire up our laptops and chat, sitting side-by-side on the couch, with Clownfish.