Thanksgiving Break

I just came back from the most amazing break I’ve ever had. Well, kind of.

My mom hates traveling. She likes to stay at home over anything else. So, as a result of that, my family goes nowhere. Growing up, all the elementary school teachers would ask where everyone went during the break and I would have nothing to say. I never liked that.

But this past break my mom finally agreed to let us go somewhere. We went to Spring Grove, Illinois. A small town in the middle of nowhere. It’s where my maternal grandparents live.

We drove 16 hours in the car (my mom also hates flying) to get there. I have four younger siblings. We do not have a large car. That was not fun. But once we got there, all the hours were worth it. There was snow. Real snow, fluffy and white. It powdered the trees, covered the ground, fell in little fluffs from the sky. It was like we were driving through a snowglobe. It was beautiful. I loved the way it dusted the roofs of the houses and dripped onto the front porches. I especially loved the icicles that beared the edges of the roofs and slowly melted in the surprisingly warm sun. All of it was perfect.

And my grandparents. I didn’t realize how little I knew them. I had many wonderful conversations with my grandfather about college, about driving, about life in general. He is very wise and intelligent. He advises people in their business and used to teach at a college. I greatly appreciated his insight. My grandmother is kind of odd, and she’s always been that way, but I still had a great time talking with her too.

In the basement of my grandparents’ home (basements in themselves are amazing. Where I live we don’t have them) my grandfather had set up a huge train table with working toy/small but working trains and a woodshop. He invited us all to come down with him and play with the trains and also to make something out of wood with his help. My brothers and sisters all had these grand ideas for what they wanted to make with all his power tools. I made a ring. (It’s really pretty) (And was really easy to make)

A few rings, actually. The first one, the prototype, was made out of plywood, and the other two were made out of walnut. All three turned out very beautifully. I like wearing a wooden ring. It’s unique. It stands out.

After I made one ring, two of my sisters also made one. They liked my idea, I guess. I’m the trendsetting big sister.

I spent a lot of time writing and my grandparents’ house, since this was the last week of NaNoWriMo. (I finished yesterday. 50,266 words!!!) I felt bad for not talking with them and spending time with them the whole time, but I do have a lot of siblings that also occupied their attention so I think it turned out okay. My grandfather and I talked a little about writing once he picked up on the fact that it’s kind of my passion. He suggested I go to the Writers Workshop that’s held at Iowa University every summer. I’d like to, but I haven’t found much information on it yet.

The first day we were there we drove to Gino’s East by Lake Geneva for some Chicago-style pizza. I swear, Chicago-style pizza  is the best kind of pizza there is, especially Gino’s.  I loved eating that delicious pizza   while looking out the window at Lake Geneva. Everything  was so pretty. The gray sky and blue lake with the white snow on the ground and the long icicles hanging down…and the taste of the gooey cheese and thick crust…that is one memory I will hold onto for a long time.

We played in the snow. It was fantastic. We made snow angels, sled down their front lawn, built two snowmen, and attempted to make an igloo that just turned into a wall of a fort. My siblings and I did all the snow things that we never have enough snow to do at home. I never realized how fluffy and soft snow is. Our parents laughed at us (they grew up in the north, snow is nothing new to them) but they didn’t seem to understand how amazing snow is to people who have only ever known ice. They talked about how much they hate the snow and the cold, but after only experiencing it for a week, none of us sympathized with that. We wanted more snow. We wanted to stay. We wanted to keep in building snow forts until spring arrived and the sun melted all of our hard work.

I already want to go back. Traveling to my grandparents’ house was like stepping foot into another world, where it’s always cold enough to have hot chocolate and no one will ever die of heat stroke (I got that once. Not fun). It was peaceful, picturesque, a great place to write. I wanted to blog while I was there, but I was so overwhelmed with how beautiful and perfect everything was, not to mention I had NaNoWriMo and family obligations. I loved talking with my grandfather and chatting with my grandmother. My siblings and I have been begging our parents to let us go back next year, but they haven’t told us anything yet. From the looks of it, I don’t think we will.

The bitter twist to all of these sweet memories is that the only reason we went in the first place is that my grandfather had a brush with death. He’s over seventy years old, so thats not too surprising, I guess. He was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year. Doctors told him he might have to get Chemo or some other kind of expensive treatment, but my smart grandfather tried another way. He simply starting eating better and working out. He’s on a vegan diet now. (Which was kind of weird for Thanksgiving.)

I wasn’t given all the details of how this played out. There was something about him being diagnosed with cancer, or told that he MIGHT have had cancer, but then he started eating better and all the symptoms for cancer went away. I’m not too sure. All I know are the feeling I got, the impression my mom and dad left on me when they talked about this trip. This was supposed to be a “now or never” sort of thing.  A last visit before he was too old and sick to visit/host us.

Whatever the reasons for our one real Thanksgiving break trip, I’m glad we went. It was amazing and worth all the long hours and screaming siblings and lack of sleep because I had to sleep in the library of my grandparents’ house. I hope an opportunity comes to do it all again next year.

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