Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Driving Home

It's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I'm reading all those posts on Facebook and twitter about friends rejoicing that their kids have arrived, are on the way, that they're going to the airport now to pick them up.
Others are on the road themselves, braving the storm and rain, or snow, to get to people they love and want to spend the weekend with.
Recipes have been posted back and forth, the grocery shopping for tomorrow has either been done, or is underway right now. I know that the stores are crowded, there may be little dramas unfolding about where to get the right kind of dinner rolls, or what kind of punch to brew.
Uh oh – that turkey will be too small for all of us, it's too big for the oven, did you remember to bring the cranberry sauce, and would someone please decorate the Christmas tree?

Thanksgiving, and how I've always envied my American friends.
There's something special, something very festive about Thanksgiving. It opens Christmas season in a wonderful way: families gather for a very special dinner, they go home, knowing everyone else will be there, too.

My favorite Christmas song has always been Chris Rea's Driving Home for Christmas.
We've often listened to it, driving into town for some Christmas shopping, and it made me happy and a bit heart-sick at the same time.
Going home for Christmas, that wasn't an option for us. Most of our Christmases were small, were celebrated with just the little family of my husband, me, and our two boys.
My parents didn't celebrate Christmas (my father being from India), and my parents-in-laws preferred to spend the winter on a tropical island, in the sun.
I've always wanted one of those big family gatherings. I'd have loved to sit down at a long table with my sister, her family, my husband's family, his sister, her kids.
I'd even gladly taken on the role of hostess, but it wasn't meant to be.
Now it's too late for that, of course. There comes a moment when everything changes, when you can't go back to what the family once was, or should have been.

Maybe it's me. Maybe it's because my family was always so splintered.
Maybe that's the reason why I miss these family gatherings so much.
I can even hear you say, "Oh, be happy you had small and peaceful Christmases! Family is such a chore!"
Yes, maybe they are. But they're also family.

So, all of you driving home today, enjoy your families. Yes, even that uncle or cousin that makes you want to go crazy.
Even the old aunt who knows everything better.
Please enjoy them. They're your family, and they love you.

And drive safely.