As anyone who lives away from their family knows, the holiday season can be more of a logistical nightmare than a warm and fuzzy dream. Since moving to Charlotte seven years ago, we haven’t always been able to get to our families in time for the holidays. We feel really fortunate to be in positions now where we can take the time off or take our work with us, but it’s still pretty stressful to bounce from one house to another trying to divide your time up evenly between everyone we want to see. We usually head home wondering if we spent enough time with anyone, happy, but entirely drained. This Thanksgiving, though, was not like that.
Since my parents moved from our hometown while I was still in college, we now alternate where we travel for each holiday. This year was Thanksgiving in Maryland and while we missed the rest of our family, having five days with no where else to go, with only my parents to see, was so relaxing and a much needed break from our normal routines. We had our bags packed so that after work on Tuesday, we spent an hour loading up the car and drove north all evening – arriving just in time to kiss my mom goodnight and head to bed.
Eric and I both had work calls to take on Wednesday, so we set up in different parts of the house while Ollie perched on his favorite chair and watched the cars go by out the living room window like the happiest dog there ever was. Eric led a long call in the afternoon, so mom and I snuck away for a quick walk around the local shops in order to give him some peace and quiet. After a long walk with Ollie before the early sunset, my dad got home and fired up the grill for a steak dinner. We devoured four of the biggest steaks I’ve ever seen, cleared the table, and caught up for a while before heading to bed.
I set my alarm for Thursday morning because the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is my all-time favorite tradition for the holiday. Mom got up with me and started on our Thanksgiving lunch in the kitchen, popping back over to the TV every time there was a Broadway scene or special musical guest she wanted to catch. We’re both big fans of Mary Poppins, so we were so happy to see the cast do a little number of our favorite tune from the show. Ollie even barked at the TV a little during the dog show that comes on after. Even though there was only four of us eating lunch together, Mom (with very little help from me) still made a little of everything for a giant, delicious, late lunch. We watched a couple cheesy Hallmark movies in the evening, Mom and I chatted while Eric read a book, and my dad got in some computer time before we all fell into a tryptophan-induced sleep.
I had to work a little here and there again on Friday, so after answering some emails in the morning, Mom and I decided to briefly do some Black Friday shopping – where I decided I would be doing all our gift shopping online from there on out. My parents love Indian food and love that their son-in-law enjoys exotic and spicy food (because I do not LOL), so we went out to their favorite Indian restaurant for dinner that evening. I ordered soup and two types of naan bread like a wimp, while Dad and Eric ordered lamb vindaloo at ridiculous spice levels. The server even checked with them twice to make sure they could handle the heat. It was really fun watching my parents suggest all their favorites to Eric and the three of them scoff at my bland choices, and we made our way home feeling very full and smelling like curry.
On Saturday, we woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast before we visited the PA Dutch Farmer’s Market/the Amish Market in Annapolis. Even though it was pretty crowded, we wound through the crowds to see displays of handmade candy, chocolates, dried fruits, meats, and eventually over through the furniture and other beautiful wooden items crafted by hand. Mom wanted to stop by a couple local stores before we left, so Eric and I walked over to a Barnes & Noble to walk around and ended up leaving with a handful of books and two records we’ve been looking for. Our college football team had a rival game that afternoon (#SouthernNotState), and we were happy to find a stream online so we could watch the win as we started packing our bags back up. My dad has a pool table in their basement that Eric loves to school me on, so we played a few games that evening while the two of us watched a comedy show. Ollie stayed upstairs to cuddle with my parents, ha!
We unfortunately had to head back to Charlotte on the early side Sunday since Eric had a flight to catch Monday morning. The GPS told us traffic was terrible (shocker), so we took an alternate route on back highways through Virginia and didn’t hit a major interstate until we were an hour from home. The drive was beautiful though, and we made great time considering it was a very busy travel day. We made it back just in time to unpack, do laundry, and pack Eric back up again before crashing.
It was a wonderful (but entirely too short) trip that was filled with relaxation, lots of laughter, a little work, and a fair amount of sleep. I’m already missing my parents but happy that we won’t have to wait too long to see them next, because my cousin is graduating college in a few weeks and then the real holiday travel madness begins for us! And even if it exhausts us like it usually does, I feel ready to take it on after this relaxing start. Happy Thanksgiving!