The Air Force Dentist and his family found themselves stranded here in the desert when the snows closed the airports back east. She Who Turns Up Everywhere managed to fly in from San Francisco without any trouble. JannyLou's kids can't wait to sleep in the camper they'll park in the driveway. FlapJilly will accompany her parents to Maga and Papa's, truly over the river and through the woods to Indiana.
Everyone is traveling, except us. We'll meander along the path between our houses, arriving at Fast Eddie and JannyLou's doorway with side dishes and desserts, expending only foot power to get there. Somehow, that just doesn't seem right. The holidays seem to demand transportation over distance and time.
Little Cuter wants my people around her for the holiday; she'll have to travel to accomplish that feat. Although she protests that with three jobs and a toddler her traveling should be limited to picking us up at the airport, her father and I continue to want them to come this way in the winter. Leaving the sunshine and shorts for snow and ice doesn't make us smile, even with the prospect of their smiling faces at the bottom of the escalator at O'Hare. I slip on the slick surfaces. My hands ache from the cold. I miss the stars at night and the blue skies during the day. I buy the tickets, they use them, I heat up the hot tub for small swimming experiences..... I don't know what she's complaining about.
True, traveling with a little one requires packing with care. A 16 month old has no love for sitting still; I walked across America many times, bent over, holding her hands after I held her brother's hands, up and down the aisles of planes. I do wish we lived closer, but this will have to do for now.
We used to put everyone and everything in the car and drive straight through to Cleveland from Chicago. East on I-80, singing songs and reading aloud, the miles were boring but manageable. Nannie was always standing in the door as we pulled into the driveway; how she knew we were arriving in that era before cell phones remains a mystery to this day.
There were presents on the hearth in the dining room, perfect presents for whatever age and interests the kids had. How she knew what to buy is in that same mystery pile; it was always just what I wanted!!!! Their basement held all sorts of treasures, as did the attic and the crawl spaces. Daddy's castle came out of hiding, small metal soldiers constantly appearing underfoot. The heavy metal trike went up and down the long straight driveway; somehow the snow always melted enough for the kids to be able to play.
There was something about the automotive transition that made the holiday special to me. I left my in-box behind. There was always someone to watch the kids, to play cards with the kids, to cook the food and shop for the food and to bring in the mail. I had nothing to do. I could nap in the afternoon without worries. I could come down late for breakfast and find that my children were fed. I could read to my heart's content; there were grandparents around making sure the little ones were happy.
TBG's family didn't go in for loud arguments or snarky picking around the edges of life. They were content to revel in the joy that was everyone all together, eating food brought in from Hough's. I spent Thanksgivings there for almost 20 years; I've never enjoyed the holiday more. Now, they are gone, the house is sold, the family is scattered to the corners of the country, and my little girl is making her own in-law memories.
I know just how she feels. I loved being there. I missed my Mommy and Daddy. I was thankful for the love and the joy and the ease, but I wanted my people around, too. Holidays have a way of twisting us up and turning us around, don't they? They combine the joy and the angst in a brightly wrapped package, which comes around every year, bringing the same tugs and hugs.
And this is only the beginning. We still have Hanukkah and Christmas and New Years and TBG's birthday and the Stroll and Roll........ I'm exhausted and it's only just started.