As the holiday season quickly comes upon us, I love reflecting on our family’s favorite traditions. Thanksgiving finds the four of us driving 14 hours to Michigan to celebrate with Jeff’s family. A few weeks later we jump back in the car for the 11 hour trek to celebrate Christmas with my family in Virginia.
Whenever we tell people this, they inevitably roll their eyes and groan saying “Oh my, I can’t imagine! What a nightmare!” I usually shock them by laughing and saying, “Actually our long car rides are some of the fun times we have together as a family!”
We’ve noticed since our family travels so much for speaking engagements that our kids have become the best little travelers in the world. From the time that they were small they’ve been packing their own bags with their Leapfrog or Nintendo DS, their books and their crayons. They recognize that once in the car, they’ll not be getting out except for potty breaks and a lunch stop. Even my son, who is normally a pretty squirmy boy, settles in for the long haul. The squirminess goes away and something else very fun happens instead. Rather than 14 hours of drudgery, it becomes a family bonding time!
Jeff and I have actually found our car rides to be some good quality couple time on the road. One thing we do is grab a great book that we’ve wanted to read and take it with us. I’ll read it to him as he drives, and it not only makes the time pass, but it is something fun to do together. And then I realized… it wasn’t just him listening. A few years ago, I was reading the book 1776 by David McCullough — all about the final year of the Revolutionary war. Suddenly, I would hear these little voices in the backseat saying, “Wait, wait, Mommy, read that again. I missed that.” Our first and fourth-grader were listening to this really grown-up book about our nation’s history and they were interested!
Ever since then, we have treasured the opportunity to read books that all family members can enjoy.
So before we know it we’ll be loading up the car at the way too early hour of 6:00 a.m. so my husband can get some “miles under our wheels” before breakfast. But instead of dreading 14 hours of drudgery, we’ll all be looking forward to a unique family time that has become a tradition we all cherish.
And this year… we are starting the Lord of the Rings. That should last us a few miles.
How does your family make the most of your long holiday car trips? What traditions do you have as you put “miles under YOUR wheels”?