It’s a big country. It took seven of us five days to traverse it in December. Google maps says it takes 40 hours to drive the 2700 miles from California daughter’s house to Florida daughter’s house for Christmas. We broke up the drive with 4 hotels. Every seat in the van was taken, most of the luggage rode on the roof. Christmas gifts, bulky winter coats, water bottles and a skateboard, filled up the back.
Since I’m committed to
LIVING - REMEMBERING - ENJOYING
I have some remembrances…
Wide Open Spaces
Never having driven farther east than Arizona, I really enjoyed seeing the lay of the land. We didn’t have time to sight-see, but I found each state had a charm of its own and view from the van images stamped in my memory…California’s start of Route 66…Arizona’s Christmas lights, where each pine tree had a different color…New Mexico’s pueblo-style architecture, including condos…Friendly Texas hills with cattle all along the way…Louisiana gas stations with resident bloodhounds, and the Louisiana Downs Racetrack. In Gulfport, Mississippi we watched the sun set over the Gulf. In Alabama there was a “Watch for Alligators” sign in the hotel parking lot. Interior Florida is loaded with farms and forests. But the big picture I have in my mind is the vast amount of wide open space and few populated areas.
Teenagers are fun.
There were three teens plus an eleven-year old in the van. Nate issued a daily self-improvement challenge for us; things like “good posture day” and “no saying ‘um’ or ‘uh’ day.” Grant found that hotel ottomans with wheels make for a good ride. Julia instituted a game in which you could not say a particular word all day; words like “go” and “far” and “when.” And who knew that you could thaw frozen pancakes in the heater vent.
Sleep is wonderful.
With my two grandsons and their parents, we had five drivers, so no one was over tired, but we did get tired of sitting, so the nightly stops were very welcome. There is nothing so sweet as a good night’s sleep. I’ve never been a good car sleeper, and I’m so grateful we were able to stop after ten-hour days to eat dinner and sleep before driving on.
My Favorite Gift
Having my entire family together was the best part of Christmas. “In person” conversations are best. When sisters make cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole together Christmas Breakfast tastes better. Conversations about Jesus and His Word, “iron sharpening iron” and honest sharing of hopes, concerns, and prayer needs are encouraging to the soul. Observing Christmas gift opening in real time makes a video recording in my mind that I can watch later, when there’s a country in between us. I’ll never forget Micah trying out his long wished for gift… a leaf blower.
Cousins have a special relationship.
The eight cousins worked together for several days making a pirate movie. Nate directed and edited, and everyone else contributed to the story, special effects, props and each had their roles to play, especially the “little” pirate, Derek. What fun they had, and Florida has the best locations for filming adventures.
One night we had a music night with piano, cello, guitar, and singing carols.
A couple of days were spent building a forge in the back yard, so the boys could make a knife. Grant had done the research, so with a bag of charcoal, a leaf blower, steel from home depot, and some “blacksmithing,” a knife was forged. Now Owen is using the knife in a movie he and a friend are making.
Snorkeling yielded many discoveries for the kids, but my favorite memory is Lauren and Miles running up the beach to tell us they were right next to a Manatee and swam along with it for a bit.
The seven days in Florida FLEW BY. We said our good-byes, and retraced our steps, adding an extra day to see the very cold, and snowy Grand Canyon.
“Behold, children are a gift from the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”