Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Minivan Milestone

I married a man from southern Ontario...very only 100 km from Detroit. At the time, I thought it was cool. You know, some mysterious man from a land far away. And from "Wallaceburg"...the town where the hero William Wallace's descendants arrived in Canada...also cool. I never had the foresight to realize all the traveling I'd be doing in my married life. He loves his home and his family very much, so we drive the 18 hour trek every year, from East to West. We flew home a few times at first when the two of us could fly "student stand by", then with our first child, on my knee, but with each additional child the price grew to an unachievable amount.

Years of the dreaded journey followed. Just imagine trying to keep nursing babies and energetic toddlers in a car seat for 18 hours straight. Nightmare. I'm sure many a truck driver saw some pretty amusing sights in our little car, upon glances, during our passing. These journeys made me hate the seat-belt law. We had a ball as kids, traveling before this restriction. Large tents, LAYING DOWN to sleep and other games made car trips (and we went on a lot of them) bearable for all. My man, being from a land far off, wasn't so appealing anymore. Not him, but his home location. It made me wonder, briefly, why I didn't go for the "boy next door".

Time went on. It took the whole year to syche myself up for the next trip and we managed each time. A strange thing happened as the kids grew. The trip became less nightmarish. Kids didn't need as much entertaining, I got to sit in the front seat and we made fewer stops. The noise level grew a little, but I got to sit still and it was laughter instead of screams and tears...fair trade. Now, with two teenagers and everyone within the age of accepting the "find something to do" directive, I've actually turned a corner and have begun to ENJOY the trip. We have dodged big chunks of ice from transport tops, squeezed through fast, big city traffic and avoided crazy sportscar drivers, by the grace of God. He goes before, after and with us all the way.

As a ministry family, we don't experience much time alone together. Every year, we get to be all alone, for 18 hours, on the open road. We even take our big hairy dog in the summertime. She's a great passenger.The kids look forward to the trip with special junk food treats, cool car watching, CN Tower sightings, big city airplanes landing nearly on top of our van and the competitive "see who can hold their breath all the way through the tunnel in Montreal" half way mark. Audio books, knitting (just me) and this year, for the first time, a portable DVD player have put the cherry on top of the road trip. Recently too, we have made the trip home after the vacation a two day event, getting a hotel room for one blessed, pampering, indulgent night. EVERYONE loves that, especially Dad, the one who sits alertly still for so many tense hours, braving the transports and the muscle cramps. He loves cruise control, multiple lanes, a van with great gas mileage, back rubs from Mom and not stopping for anything but people who are about to pee their pants.

It's wonderful how things change. It's wonderful to love and enjoy 5 people so much, that being confined with them for so long is an honor and a treat. Echoes of laughter, cuddles and interesting conversation mark our trips. The curse has turned into a blessing. One more family milestone has been overcome. I'm now thankful for seat belts, car air fresheners and that I didn't marry the "boy next door".

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