Thursday, December 11, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods

Everything about this picture is a lie.

Growing up we spent a lot of time travelling and visiting family.  There were near-weekly visits to my grandparent's house in Detroit for Sunday dinner.  There were visits during Christmas and summer vacation, which mean throughout the course of my childhood, my family spent a lot of time on the road.  Back in the olden days of the early 1970s, car travel was nowhere as near as glamorous as it is today.  The driver controlled the radio, and as far as entertainment goes, that was it.   This was all before the age of computers, tablets, DVD players, iPods (I-anythings), or any other personal music or gaming device.  You passed the time by reading a book, sleeping, or annoying your siblings by leaning your head against the car window and singing.  Well, at least one of us did that.  You tried to play the system in order not to get the middle seat in the back with the "hump" on the floor, and that took some strategy.  There were, it seemed, two options: 1. get in the car 20 minutes early so you can stake your claim at a window seat, and then refuse to budge because you got there first, or, 2. be the last one to the car, stand directly at the door of the person by the window, and use every guilt and intimidation tactic in your arsenal.  Glare at them, yell at them and tell them to move over until they either do or your parents get so tired of it, they order the window person to move over, awarding you the win.  It was a brutal game, and it should come as a surprise to no one that as we grew into into surly teenagers, these weekly visits were not what any of us wanted to do, and we were very good at making sure everybody understood that.

Decades later, we've survived our own adolescence, managed not to kill each other, and yes, we still travel to visit.  We have dealt with surly kids and pets of our own who, unsurprisingly, exhibited the exact same behavior we did (despite the fact that they a multitude of personal gadgets and electronic doodad available to entertain their poor tortured souls).  But finally, something has changed. Being older and (dare I hope), wiser, now we visit because we want to; not because we have to.  This December two college-aged kids are coming home and even better, are excited about it. All my brothers and sisters will be in town at the same time.  There will be parents, kids, and kids of kids, and a plethora of furry family members to meet, cuddle and play with.  Our glasses will be raised to those far away, and those who are with us in the stories we tell and the memories we share.  And although we don't have every moment of every day planned (in fact, we don't have formal plans at all), the only thing that matters is that we'll be gathered together, for a little awhile anyway, to tell old stories, make new memories, eat a lot, laugh even more, and enjoy every minute.  Not because we have to, but because we want to.

That will be the best present of all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exactly!! We went through the same rituals, although my brother usually won because he was tall and therefore NEEDED the window seat.