When I was a kid we spent a lot of Thanksgiving mornings traveling for hours to get to my aunt and uncle’s house in Massachusetts.
I hated traveling on holidays then and I still don’t like it much. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I enjoy cooking and all the other preparations that go into the holiday meal. Maybe because it’s like a mini vacation from school and it’s nice to be able to take the time to relax at home doing my own thing. Or nothing at all. Maybe it’s because riding for four hours in a car with my four siblings was chaotic at best and downright painful at worst. And that’s just one way. We still had to drive home again. It was definitely uncomfortable.
I remember one year I woke up on Thanksgiving morning to discover it had snowed a good 8-10 inches and I was ecstatic because I was absolutely positive that meant we couldn’t possible drive to Massachusetts. I didn’t even care if I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. That was still better than four hours in the car ONE WAY! You can’t imagine my disappointment when my parents said, “Of course we’re going to Massachusetts! It’s just a little snow.” You also can’t imagine the fit I threw because I DID NOT WANT TO GO! I don’t recall all the details of my tantrum, but I can guess it was seriously overly dramatic and seriously annoying to my mother. But I didn’t care because I DID NOT WANT TO GO!
Sometimes we stayed overnight in Massachusetts and that was even worse. BORING! It’s not like we were going to Boston or anything good like that. My aunt and uncle lived in a big old farm-house in the middle of nowhere. At least nowhere I wanted to be. I already lived nowhere (or so I thought), so why would I want to go nowhere else? Obviously my parents were totally unconcerned with my feelings on the subject, because no matter how much I protested we kept driving to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.
Since those preteen and teenage days filled with angst over nothing, I’ve come to understand a different perspective on Holiday traveling.
I am sure that staying home with five children and attempting to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner on her own for five kids (who tended toward picky self-centeredness) was not a pleasant idea. Actually, that was probably a downright torturous idea that my mother would have had to have been insane to entertain. So she didn’t entertain that thought, but a much more pleasant one. Going to a 17th century farmhouse, in the country, surrounded by relatives, to dine on a gourmet meal served in a traditional and formal way. What a lovely time that must have been for my mother. Her children were, for the most part, entertained by their cousins and she got to spend time with her sister and brother-in-law – no pressure. Smart woman, my mother.
While I still don’t want to travel during the holidays, I can look back on those days at my aunt and uncle’s house with fondness. Their home was lovely and sprawling, like going back to another century, when life was simple, the cookin’ was good and the blessings abundant. There were special tables for the kids to sit at and for many years that really was a special place to sit. Who wanted to sit with the grown ups anyway? And we spent hours and hours playing games with our cousins; checkers and Chinese checkers, Monopoly, Go Fish, Slap Jack, War, King’s Corners. . .
Today I applaud my mother for doing what was right for her. I’m guessing she knew it was right for all of us because that time with family cannot be replaced. As an educator I see firsthand how little time some children have with their families. So today, and everyday, I am thankful for a mother who often listened to her heart instead of her children and made good choices for us.
We will be home today, just the two of us, cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner. We are glad to have friends and family join us if they wish. They all know this. But they will make their own choices, ones that are right for them. To every member of our precious family, near or far, biological or of the larger world, know that we are thankful to be a part of your lives and we send you our love today and always.
Karen and Dave