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Literature in a Hurry: Thanksgiving on the road

Kim Ukura

I have never had to travel far for Thanksgiving.

When I was a kid, all of my grandparents and most of my extended family lived within a 45 minute drive from our house. I got to spend every major holiday with at least one side of the family and was always home that night to sleep in my own bed.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, that was quite the luxury.

As I got older, my extended families have started to spread out, slowly morphing our holiday traditions to fit more and more complex schedules. Like many of my cousins, I stopped coming home for most holidays, but I still made the short trip from college or grad school to keep up the traditions my family had developed as best we could for the big ones - Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This is the first year I'm not going to get to do that. This is the first year that my boyfriend and I have had to plan for the holidays together, trying to see friends and family in the Twin Cities, Madison, Wis., and Milwaukee over a six day trip.

The first piece of bad news I had to break was telling my family that I wouldn't be eating Thanksgiving dinner with them. Luckily. I have a great mom who not only took the news in stride but actually encouraged us to go out to Milwaukee and adjusted our family's Thanksgiving plans to accommodate.

I'm not sure why I was so surprised. My mom has always been pretty relaxed about the idea of holiday traditions, preferring to just spend time having fun rather than trying to keep up traditions for the sake of keeping up traditions.

Since crossing that bridge, I've been trying to figure out how to coordinate traveling for a major holiday with the least stress possible. There are many big questions to ask. Do we drive the nine hours to Milwaukee or fly part of the day? Stop for a day in Madison to visit friends who are as good as family or do the whole drive in one shot. Will his family's mashed potatoes be as good as the ones my grandma always makes? How will I find time to goof off with my sister?

At this point, all I can do is think one task ahead. Finish this editorial. Finish the newspaper. Do laundry. Pack my clothes. Check the fluids in the car. Clean our house. Finish next week's newspaper. Find some audiobooks and snacks for the drive. Imagine all the delicious Madison restaurants I want to visit. Get on the road. Breathe.

I am not excited about the miles and miles we'll be putting on the car next week, but I am excited that we've come up with a way to spend a little time over the Thanksgiving holiday with the many people that we call family. I can't think of anything to be more thankful for than that.