Posts Tagged Thanksgiving

Giving Holiday Thanks to the Little Griswald

Minivan Man

Still, the aggravation of air travel is a statistically safer trip than by car.

Little Griswald has made it home safe and sound from another coastal road trip. The 2002 Honda Odyssey now has 140k miles, and more love than I could ever express here. (Though I’ve tried, and my website borders on the absurd.) We bought it three years ago, and when you consider the cost of airfare that we’ve saved in four major, 2,000+ mile roadtrips, then it’s like we’re driving a free car.

We took over the torch of regular, diligent service from the original owners, who kept meticulous records including every oil change, and have been treated to an inestimably safe and reliable vehicle. This transcends the numbers—the typical cost-benefit analysis I use for all things purchased. My wife drove with our kids from Chicagoland to her dad’s outside of Atlantic City over Thanksgiving. Our kids, five and six, have been flying since they were three months old and have become intrepid travelers: they have pushed us to drive through the night, to keep going till we get there, to get over our adult discomforts. I think my son likes it because the restrictions on his video game time are relaxed; my daughter, I think she likes having all of us at ready access to play Uno or get silly with. Despite this, driving sixteen hours without being able to manage what’s going on in the back seat is a feat of fortitude like no other. My wife didn’t complain once, at least not to me, who was worried on the phone but otherwise safely ensconced at home.

It’s remarkable to consider, and awesome to reflect on now that we’ve returned home. I surprised her to tears by flying out on Thanksgiving proper so I could be with my family and help drive home. I really don’t know how she did it. I’ve driven over a thousand miles by myself many times before, but never with two kids. The joke was that she really wanted to drive solo so she could justify unlimited coffee all day long. The truth is the airline industry fucking sucks, and if you’re going to have a two-hour delay, which seems standard for holiday air travel, then you might as well add a couple hours to your trip to have total control and know what to expect. (In 2010 the USA Today reported: From 2003 through 2009, 22.3% of flights were late, canceled or diverted nationwide. The rate shot up to 33.4% for the winter holiday period during those same years. That means passengers during the winter holidays were nearly 50% more likely to have their travel itineraries disrupted. )

Still, the aggravation of air travel is a statistically safer trip than by car. Lil’ Gris’ is ten years old, and for as dull as the destination-driven road trip can become after the second hour, it is fraught with peril and unpredictability. My son reported a long delay due to a three car accident, in which he saw a pick-up truck on its hood on the turnpike outside of Philadelphia.

On our way home we encountered the first snow storm of the season in the Allegheny Mountains in northern Appalachia. My wife was driving when I awoke and saw an accident on the eastbound side of I-80. Several cars had spun out, and were now in the process of being cranked from the ditch and loaded onto carrier bed tow trucks. Fortunately, there was nothing too grisly except for what followed: a five-mile traffic jam backed up to the nearest exit ramp. Drivers were standing, pacing, cursing in the snow, with absolutely no place to go. The visibility wasn’t that bad, the snow was wet, there was no ice. It takes so little for that to happen, one text, one dropped cd, one glance back at two bickering kids.

Then you see all the cars sidelined by seasonal and vehicular maladies, imagining how it would play out given the current circumstances, and you can’t help put praise your car. But Lil’ Gris is just a machine, an object, a thing. The gratitude one feels from a problem-free road trip is praised at a bumper much greater than the Honda Odyssey. Thank St. Christopher, or fleet-footed Hermes, or whatever deities of travel that make the best thing about a road trip—leaving home—balanced with the best thing about the return trip, getting home.

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Thanksgiving is awesome; Black Friday is stupid

Most sane adults can agree that Thanksgiving is the best holiday because of its simple focus on food and family. It has retained a purity of the original unlike any other holiday, which we have inflated to gargantuan behemoths through commercialism and personal irresponsibility. That’s not to say there is no drama; that recipe is simple: gather family to eat food, throw in a well-stocked side bar, and unpleasant truths will be served! As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving is the easiest to stomach and, as a weekend, the most relaxing.

ð Eating lunch while still in your pajamas because you won’t leave the house until leftover dinner with the family might be the best way to spend Black Friday.

ð A double-header Thanksgiving is lovely because of this syllogism: Thanksgiving is spent with good people; good people make good food; thus, Thanksgiving is good food.

Turkey bowl drumstick

ð Looking forward to the annual turkey bowl is not irrational because even if you drop two wide open touchdown passes then sprain your ankle walking backwards, it was still worth it.

ð A date with the wife to a friend’s house for another friend’s birthday party is something to be thankful for; her minding the kids and letting you sleep in the next morning is absolute undeniable unequivocal love.

ð Not leaving the house—hell, not getting out of my pajamas on Saturday is a wonderful treat. It’s not all sloth either, because I’ve been working, but even if I hadn’t been, because of Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t feel guilty indulging myself with two days in a row of not leaving the house.

ð The kids getting excited for Christmas, with the gratuitous decorations and all the pomp and waste, can thaw even this Grinch’s heart.

Hope you enjoyed yours as much as I enjoyed mine. Here’s to looking forward to next year…

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