We piled into the old family car. A car my parents bought when I was still at home, before I could drive. A car they aren’t likely to own much longer, it’s on it’s way out. But unlike the dwindling life of that car, our family vacations have had a resurgence, a tradition I’m thankful we still have, even though my sister and I are now adults. We’ve taken this trip several times before in this car; it’s a well-worn path from the inland northwest to Whidbey Island, just outside Seattle.
This year at Thanksgiving, I’m feeling especially thankful for my family, and the fact that our current circumstances allow for us to come together for the holidays. Though my sister lives in Colorado, and I live in Ireland, being together when we can holds strong on our list of priorities. I feel particularly lucky that at 28, family vacations are still happening. And now, they’re better than ever. Long gone are the years of being some-what unruly child, or bored teenager, and our family trips are nothing but joyful. As adults we get to simply enjoy each others presence. Though I dearly wished Alex could have joined us, I relish the opportunity for core family get togethers, something that as we grow up and add new members to our family, seems a rare gift. I can imagine as a parent, it must be somewhat difficult to share your child with their significant other-no matter how much they love the new addition. Though it is completely natural, that your child would replace you as the most important person(s) in their lives with a significant other, I can imagine a longing for time spent with just them, as it used to be. And as the child in this scenario, I hold tight to the nostalgia of those years as well, and cherish the few times a year we get to relive them. I don’t know how long these trips will last, as life continues it’s perpetual insistence on change, so for now I’ll swim in the joy of our togetherness.
The drive to Seattle seems a lot shorter now. What used to be an ordeal is now a swift ride, time passing appreciably reading or talking. We stopped downtown to pick up pie for dinner from Dahlias Bakery when I realized I hadn’t been to Seattle since graduating college in 2009, though everything feels exactly the same. After a quick lunch we drove to the island, I was immediately reminded that I don’t venture into nature enough and breathe in the sweet smell of forest. This year we forego turkey for beef wellington-a far more delicious alternative. Though I am deeply nostalgic on this trip, I am not one for many traditions, and turkey falls firmly into the category of traditions I prefer to skip. It was the ideal Thanksgiving; good food, wine, and company. It was entirely too short. We stayed in the cabin next to our uncle and aunt’s home, we slept in the same room that we did as children; my sister and I on twin beds next to each other, the cabin smelling the same as it always has-a mix of earthy forest floor and wood.
The next morning we head back to Seattle for a day of shopping and eating, soon after, we head our separate ways. My parents drive back to our hometown, my sister to college, and I to Dublin. I don’t know when we’ll all be together again, but I can’t wait for whenever that might be. Time stands still on these trips, the momentum of our lives halting momentarily in this space together, the ease of being with people who know you fully. The years have changed us all, as we bring new stories and experiences with us, but when we’re together, it’s as if nothing has changed. Growing up, my parents instilled many lessons in my sister and I, but the greatest is the importance of family. Though we can’t choose them as children, and we can decide who they are as adults, I feel endlessly lucky that I was born into this wonderful family, and incredibly thankful that as the years pass we continue to get closer. It is a rare blessing. So this year, I am thankful for so many things, but particularly for these three people; my parents and my sister, this year is dedicated to them.