Thank goodness for holiday traffic or we might have seen very little of Emily this Thanksgiving break. Originally, she was scheduled to arrive home on Wednesday evening on the train. She texted me on Tuesday morning to say that she was thinking about coming home that evening. A friend from high school had driven up for a visit and would give Emily a ride back to Los Angeles. She seemed so anxious to come home that she decided to blow off her Wednesday classes and had given her homework to a friend to turn in for her. I asked if I should plan dinner for her and I receive a quick "Yes, please!" in response. This is all coming in via text so I was assigning all the emotions that I was sure she wished to convey.
I quickly began planning a dinner that would be an appropriate "Welcome Home" meal that would not screw up Al's planned cholesterol test for the following morning. Salmon would work. The boys were out of school for the week and already plugged into the Playstation, so I convinced them to come with me, luring Joey in with the promise of a pit stop at the game store so he could blow his hard earned tutoring money on the latest combat game.
I was feeling a bit nervous about going to the grocery store with them as they have little patience for shopping and can only keep their hands off each other for about 90 seconds before the horseplay starts up again. (The reintroduction of the word "horseplay" into our everyday vernacular is one of the smaller joys of our parenting years...that, and "bellyache".) Surprisingly, the produce section was a great distraction. Both Jack and Joey took a keen interest in how to choose bell peppers, cucumbers and zucchini. Joey rolled his eyes at me when I told him he had to smell the pineapples but was taken aback when he discovered a difference. When Jack asked what an orange should smell like, Joey and I looked at each other a bit incredulously and responded in unison, "An orange!" Considering it was only two days before Thanksgiving, we got out of there pretty quickly and my cost for the pleasure of their company was held to only two root beers and a $5 4-pack of grapples.
Jack and I spent the afternoon in meal preparation while Joey was at basketball practice. Jack had been counting down the days until Emily came home and was visibly gleeful that her arrival was coming a day early. Late that afternoon, while picking up Joey, I got a text from Emily. You knew it was coming, right? She and her friend were just leaving Santa Barbara and she was coming home first to get her car and then head out to Pasadena to meet some friends for dinner. Our long awaited homecoming was quickly morphing into a fly-by. However, her continuous texts from the road kept us apprised of their slow-going. “Should it take this long to get through Santa Barbara? How far is it to Carpinteria? Will traffic break up after we get into the valley? (Ha!) I have to pee!” When she finally pulled in around 7:30, she had missed dinner with her friends. She was exhausted, hungry, a little crabby and looking for the bathroom. But her unexpected delay, (I think you have to be at least 30 before you truly believe that holiday traffic is a reality), became our good fortune. We spent the evening at home, watching reruns of “Bones” and listening to the kids bicker and banter. For this, we are truly thankful.