“God grant us a safe and pleasant journey.” When I was growing up, every time our family loaded up the station wagon and headed out of town, my mother always led us in this prayer. I now know, however, that what she was silently praying was, “Please Lord help me not to strangle any of my kids as I sit in this blasted car for all these hours with them!” My parents truly are my heros for putting up with these family trips for hour on end with no cell phones, GPS devices, DVD/CD players, Redbox Movie rental kiosks, McDonald’s Playplaces, Ipods or Nintendo DS’s; nothing but the sound of 4 screaming kids and the AM/FM radio.
Thankfully, times have changed. But the family road trip has not! With a family of six, flying is financially impossible. So to get to Minnesota for the Thanksgiving Holiday this year, we loaded up the sticky, stinky minivan with the attractive Sears top carrier and headed out on the road again. And when it was all said and done, this was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember with my family!
It all began with a soccer tournament detour in South Carolina – not exactly on the way, but certainly not too out-of-the-way. That 4 1/2 hour trip took almost 7 hours and included one episode of taking two of the kids out of the car for a “you guys get along or we’re leaving you here at this gas station” talk. So I was sure “this was going to be a great trip”! After a fun weekend of soccer, we loaded back up the swaggerwagon and headed northwest toward Iowa to my sister’s home. I always dread driving anywhere near the mountains, but I must say that the North Carolina mountains on that morning really looked breath-taking.
All-in-all, after 12 hours in the van, things went pretty well. Until…the battery died. Luckily we were already parked at our hotel for the night in Champaign, Illinois. Instead of waiting until the next morning when Wal-Mart opened to remedy the situation, my husband decided to take matters into his own hands. I came to find out later that he had left the hotel around 3:30 am, walked 2 miles to the closest Wal-Mart, purchased a battery and some tools, and carried it all back. He then proceeded to change the battery by himself and get the swaggerwagon back in working condition. Crazy? Yes! Dangerous? Probably so! But I love him anyway! We were back on the road the next morning just 1/2 hour behind schedule.
After spending a fun night in Ames, Iowa (home of Iowa State University and former home of most wonderful AU football coach Gene Chizik), where we proudly drove our Auburn van through the streets of the ISU campus (wonder if anyone was jealous?), we then headed to Minnesota to see the rest of the family. All of my siblings and their families were there. Great-Grandma was there. We just hung out, relaxed, ate and visited. Even better, my father and (mostly) my mother did the cooking. That’s what Thanksgiving should be. So after a few days of family fun, visit to an indoor waterpark, shopping at the Mall of America, playing in the snow and watching Auburn beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, we began our journey back to the warm South (did I mention it never got above 23 degrees while we were there?). After deciding we wanted a day at home to unpack before jumping back into the everyday activities, we ended up driving 21 hours and 15 minutes straight to get home. By the way, if you were wondering, there just isn’t much to see down the entire length of the state of Illinois.
So this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, I have a few things I am truly thankful for:
- Rest Areas
- My wonderful husband
- My kids
- Freedom to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior
- and last but certainly not least, the God who granted us a safe and pleasant journey!