My Holiday Travels Are Great Fun… Until It Is Time To Leave!


Over the river and through the woods, up Interstate 95 and up through Illinois, to grandma’s house we go… and return.

I love going to Cedarburg, Wisconsin at this time of year to visit my brother and parents. It’s quaint and historic with 150-year-old houses all decked out for the holidays and little luminarias in brown paper bags lining the streets and the old wool mill offering free wine tastings and hot fudge/butterscotch ice cream crepes in the basement while cash registers ring cheerily in all the little shops housed upstairs.

I love the German/Swiss/Norwegian Christmas ornament shop and the candy shop and the vintage clothing store. I love staying at Washington House because you can stay in the old side with the Jacuzzi tubs or the older side with the nostalgia. Clydesdales pull wagons down the street, and there are hayrides. On the corner, the cutest little candy cane and gingerbread house keeps Santa warm while he listens to children’s requests.

Unfortunately, I eventually have to leave, and this means just one thing — a long, long drive ahead. And yes, I could fly, but the add-on charges for 15 extra suitcases filled with presents is not cost-effective. I know. I’ve tried. Besides, this year I was in charge of bringing the pumpkin pie, apple pie, cheesecake, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. There was no way I was getting through airport security with that stuff.

So I filled the car to the brim, and Mark drove.

I’m always a perfect passenger on the way there. On the way there, I keep his coffee cup filled and tell him charming stories of Thanksgivings and Christmases past while acting as navigator, keeping the car’s interior climate-perfect and reading him interesting articles from whatever magazines I’ve brought along.

If he starts to look tired, I Google “quizzes” on my cell phone and ask him leading questions. He learns interesting things about himself like “Which Country Song Are You?” or “What Breed of Dog Should You Own?” or “Are You and Your Spouse Even Marginally Compatible?”

On the way back, we are both tired, especially me. That’s because I was up all night worrying about the weather for the drive home and about all the work that’s waiting for me. On the way back, I don’t even have his coffee cup, since I left it in mom’s kitchen sink. I tell him charming stories of the holiday we have just celebrated (which went perfectly, by the way) but he already knows those stories because he was there. I bury my nose in my magazines and don’t pay attention, so we drive miles out of our way or in the wrong direction.

If he starts to look tired, I yawn loudly and close my eyes in case he’s going to ask me to drive. I Google old boyfriends on my cell phone — and his old girlfriends as well. He learns interesting things like “How Successful Your Wife’s Prom Date Is Today” and “How Many Times Your First Girlfriend Has Remarried” and (by request) “Do-It-Yourself Divorce Facts.”

We arrive home exhausted and immediately find different rooms to busy ourselves in. We understand perfectly how long-distance couples survive. In fact, we envy them. We each have a snack and go to bed early.

The next morning, with somehow only happy memories left, we immediately begin planning our next trip.