Anxiously Awaiting . . . A Thanksgiving Short Story
This is a short story about waiting for loved ones at Thanksgiving. I am again behind in getting a post out about our recent travels and will remedy that soon. We are spending Thanksgiving in chilly Hilton Head, South Carolina and have had a good trip through South Carolina so far, but you’ll get that information later. First, a story:
Thanksgiving has many memories for me, but I think one of the enduring feelings of Thanksgiving is anxiously waiting for loved ones. Being the youngest of six, I spent many of my growing up years waiting for siblings to return home for the holiday, be it from college or from new homes in other states. We lived in West Virginia, so there was always the concern of the weather turning bad for the trip over the mountains in the northeastern part of the state. As the expected arrival time grew closer, my trips to the front window in our living room would grow more frequent. My sister, Frances, and I both went through a phase in our childhood when we would gallop through the house like a horse on four legs. On one of my four-legged jaunts to the window to see if anyone had arrived yet, I tripped on my hooves and fell straight down on my mouth. This resulted in knocking one of my front teeth loose enough that it eventually “died” and turned brown. Fortunately, its adult replacement was not far behind, so the brown tooth condition didn’t last for too many weeks. My mother will still occasionally refer to the time when I had my “dead tooth.” Everyone arrived safely that year, but I don’t much of what happened right after the accident! It all turned out well.
Another time we waited in great anticipation for siblings driving back from New Jersey to arrive, and the weather reports were not great. After a somewhat anxious day at the homestead, we were relieved when the crew pulled in. I can still hear my sister, Christine, telling us that she knew she was back in West Virginia while listening to the road conditions being reported on the radio by a county sheriff. His report ended with the statement, “… so drive careful, the roads is slick.” They don’t test for grammar in the police academy.
There were even episodes of family members sliding off of slippery roads during the trip in. Thankfully, no injuries to humans resulted from the incident, but it was unnerving to hear about, and even more unnerving for those involved!
So it is not surprising that Thanksgiving always holds that element of waiting for safe arrivals. Although we are not home with family this year, I know exactly who in my family is traveling where and when. I am compulsively looking at the radar maps and using the weather apps we use for sailing to check conditions in the appointed travel areas. Instead of running to the front window to confirm a safe arrival, I find myself scanning my email every five minutes around the expected arrival time for the promised confirmation of a journey safely completed.
This year I experienced the sailing equivalent of this anxious anticipation. We’ve been traveling periodically with our friends on sailing vessel Magnolia … not every day and every location, but we make a point of overlapping our stays and likely will continue to do so for a while. Last week we got ahead of them by a couple of days, but we had planned to try to meet up for Thanksgiving. As anybody up and down the eastern seaboard knows, the weather this week has not been pretty thanks to the winter storm and associated fronts. Even more so than driving, that makes travel by boat very challenging. Frank and I got Eleanor Q in to our designated meeting place by Monday and hunkered down in a marina to sit through the winds, storms and then cold. We kept looking at the weather forecasts and fretting, knowing that our friends had about 65 miles between them and us and not the greatest conditions. (Keep in mind, sailboats travel at about the speed of a bicycle.) Safety always being first, we prepared ourselves to spend Thanksgiving alone knowing that they wouldn’t make any unwise decisions to get here (always understood and agreed upon by friends on the water.) On Tuesday, much to our surprise, they altered their itinerary and skipped a planned stop in order to barrel on through, get ahead of the worst weather yet to come, and to make our Thanksgiving rendezvous. But conditions Tuesday were already deteriorating and I returned to my process of checking radar maps and weather apps. Then we would look to see if their radio signal was showing up on our GPS system. Finally, we saw them show up on the map a few miles out and then heard them hail the marina on the radio. The winds were really starting to blow and the rain was coming down harder. Frank put on his rain pants and jacket and went to assist with docking. I stood in the cockpit and peeked out of the enclosure watching for them to round the corner, navigate the fairway and make a safe landing in their slip. I was ten years old and standing at the front window again… waiting and watching with some anxiety. And then they were in and all was right with the world again.
Wednesday I waited for word of another sibling to complete a several hour trek in less than ideal conditions. And when I got the much awaited email that she had arrived safely, I gave thanks and settled into a contented feeling of really being able to enjoy the holiday… and with all my teeth intact.
May the anticipation of the day be rewarded with joy and contentment. Happy Thanksgiving.