Aww, the holiday season. Here I am, just minding my own business, still eating my kids’ Halloween candy, and before I know it, Thanksgiving is already here! While the great debate rages on about when it’s okay to play Christmas music and put up the Christmas tree, let us celebrate by stuffing our faces full of turkey, punkin’ pie and all the trimmings! I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving for my family consists mostly of travel and regret. Our family’s own National Lampoon’s holiday road in a three-phase journey.
Phase One: To Grandmother’s House We Go
Once my piles of laundry and packing are complete, my anxiety, aka the Voice of Doom, takes over until we are on the holiday road. Then, I don’t care. If we forgot something, we’ll figure it out. It’s the prep that stresses me out the most.
A ten-hour car ride brings us to the loving arms of grandparents, siblings, and cousin-love for my boys. Getting there isn’t too bad now that my kids are five-and-a-half years of age. There’s minimal “are we there yets” and the whining typically kicks in the last hour of the drive. However, that final hour makes me want to rip my eyelashes out one at a time. At some point I become unconscious, and am full-on mouth breathing and fogging up my window. My husband thinks I’m borderline narcoleptic. I hope onlookers passing us on the road get a good chuckle, but don’t take a picture of it. It’s not flattering.
Phase Two: Family, Fun & Feast
Once we arrive, we kick into cruise director mode, searching for free and fun projects and activities for our brood. Keeping them occupied is essential for keeping the peace. My kids plus their cousins, seven kids in total, is a lot to navigate. My sister-in-law is incredible. We always have a great time. We eat so much we hate ourselves. When I hit this phase, I’m not sure who to call first: my counselor or LA Fitness.
Phase Three: God Save the Queen!
Towards the end of the trip, the Voice of Doom makes her triumphant return to express her concerns regarding packing and leaving stuff behind. I tell her to take a seat. The holidays bring out parts of me I don’t like. Am I the Grinch? Do I look good in green?
We get on the holiday road again, heading home. My boys ask if we’re there yet every hour. Indigestion kicks in. Whining commences. We just want to be home. I just want to crawl into my bed, put on Netflix, and ignore my husband for two hours.
As we pass through a nearby city, I see a fast food establishment where we had to pull off due to a blow out diaper on this same drive several years ago. We pretty much destroyed the changing table. It was my first, blow-out experience as a new mom. I find myself tearing up and laughing at the same time as my husband and I recount the incident. Amidst the chaos of the holiday week, I am reminded of what a gift it is to be a mom, and how crazy-fast these days are flying by.
These are the good ‘ole days we’ll be talking about for years to come. The family time is worth it. The holiday road drive is worth it. No place I’d rather be. I’m so full of turkey and emotions. My heart just grew three sizes.