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Thanksgiving Car Trip

Updated on November 1, 2010
Granny's had enough already!
Granny's had enough already!

Well, my mother-in-law has called. A few times already, so we're getting ready for our pilgrimage for the Thanksgiving Holiday. It's about an 800 mile trip and with everything we have to bring (both there and back) and the craziness of airport travel these days, it's become more fun to drive and stay overnight at our favorite Holiday Inn Express along I80. We have a routine now. I'm prepared for the fights - in advance, and I'm prepared for the weather conversation - the ceaseless weather conversation! But I'm never ready for the car ride. It changes as the kids grow up and as we grow older (no, I didn't really say that!). So here are some of my thoughts out loud.

You need to know a bit of background: according to my mother-in-law, my husband is perfect and I am not. Unless she's talking to someone else and then her older son is just ideal. We start from a place of confusion. I make the plans, pack, reserve the hotel, pick out the gift, get everything ready for both of my kids, get someone to take care of my dog and cat while we are away, but nary a thank you for me - but big hugs and thanks to my husband! So, I need to start the weekend very appreciative of my family. Thank you to them.

Off we go. Now my kids are not that young anymore. We no longer stop every 15 minutes for the bathroom but instead complain because we can't get the favored music in some hillbilly town, i.e., not the city anymore.... Or the phone can't get a signal and the texting doesn't work. I feel like I've been transported into a scene of RV (the movie with Robin Williams and Cheryl Hines) but I'm not laughing this time.

Some things haven't changed. My kids hate to play "car-games" so entertaining them can be a challenge. I always complain because I hate the seat. It doesn't matter what car we're in, I hate sitting in a car. I like to solve problems so when my children are grumpy, out-of-sorts or arguing, sometimes I have trouble keeping out of it, especially when we're in such close quarters. One funny example is when we were stuck in traffic for hours - about 2 - and my son was about 4. He complained that his car seat was hurting him and he was really irritable and irritating. We all tried to distract him but to no avail. This was actually quite uncharacteristic of his overall nature. We stopped and went to the bathroom and again he complained. When we finally stopped for the night, out of his pocket fell a little figurine of a horse. Its body must have been jutting into him the entire time. I've since learned to check for all sorts of crazy occurrences now. I make sure we have each favorite blanket and each special something, an overabundance of snacks - we never eat them - and music - that we never listen to.

My children do find a reason to complain about something new each year - why is there only one Dutch Pantry now? I wish it would snow like last year! Does it have to rain every time we go! We heard this song already (anything related to music will be around for a long time). My husband needs to stretch his back and talk about that fact every time we're near a Starbucks or a Dunkin' Donuts - he's tired too, so instead of complaining, it's coffee time.

Shortly after coffee it's bathroom time and we stop at some "nowheresville of a place" for the bathroom and lo and behold! It's trinket town! Everything imaginable comes with my kids names on it and with a picturesque scene depicted on a bell. Oh and look at that dish towel with a snowman! Smell the candle, it's like a vanilla cookie! Suddenly, the trip has a life of its own and we stop complaining for a while. I buy a bag full of little items: scented candles we never use, mints that are always favorites, wonderfully scented hand lotions and lip balms we all use during the cold trip, and some junky trinkets that never make it out of the bag. Sometimes it's fun just to ooh and ahh in the store, spend $20 and take it home. All I can say is everyone feels good after those stops. We still have the postcards, the candles, the key-chains and more.

We stop at our favorite roadside dinner spot. What do we usually opt for on this journey? Pancakes. Pancakes for breakfast, and dinner. It's the safest food for those who have allergies - yes my kids do - and let's face it, it's hard to ruin a pancake. My son and I like them with bananas - his with whipped cream too, and my husband and daughter go for the plain and fluffy. I think the funniest breakfast experience was when we had pancakes at a restaurant that gave the kids free cookies. It was 8:45 in the morning and they were fresh from the oven, how can you say no? I don't think my kids were ever so full.

So we'll be visiting my mother-in-law for Thanksgiving. The kids will play some tennis and the adults will inevitably argue. Pretty typical for most families I would guess.

The car trip is always the best part for me - I like to think that my kids will remember the craziness of our ventures and the fun we had. My son imitating his grandmother as we all crack up and his sister pleads for more, our all laughing at me because I couldn't take my coat off in her home which she prefers at about 66 degrees and that's just far too cold for me (!), my kids talking about how much fun they had going to play tennis and going to the supermarket with their grandmother, and then my husband worrying a bit about her, some out loud and some to himself. That's a taste of our holidays.

How will yours fare?

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