A nice early gift.

With family scattered all over, sometimes the act of getting everyone together can be a challenging task that happens a lot more rarely than we’d appreciate.

This week, my parents came up from Florida for the holidays.  They spent a couple days with us, and then we all piled in the car to make the drive to my brother’s house in Orchard Park, NY.  My brother Dominic and his wife and kids moved there this Spring for his job, and so our family is more separated around the country than we’ve ever been.

As we drove the 6+ hour drive, the sun set and the weather got a little rainy.  It was a very fun family trip, lots of laughing, games were played, and as we were passing through Pennsylvania it occurred to me that it had been many, many years since I’d had a long car trip with my parents.  And now that my kids are getting older, who knows how many more Jeanne and I will have with them.

So, I was driving… and there was this wonderful, perfect moment.  My daughter, tired like teenagers get, was sleeping and gently snoring in her seat.  My mom was reading, quietly engrossed in her book.  My wife and son were in the far back seats, watching (for the first time ever) episodes of Firefly on the DVD player and wearing the headphones so that, although we couldn’t hear the show, we could hear them laughing and exclaiming things to each other as they watched.  My dad and I were talking as I drove, just chatting about life and health and schedules and a million things.   Just as we came to a lull in the conversation, something happened on Firefly that got Jeanne and Max laughing, and they shared a look and a moment that I caught in the rear-view mirror, and as their laughter settled Maggie sighed loudly and contentedly in her sleep.  I looked back at my Dad, and he was just smiling, looking out the window, as my mom continued reading.  That little moment, all of us together, headed to spend time with more family, was just perfect.  Then, of course, it faded away – I had to change lanes, we started chatting again, snacks were passed around, and we continued down the expressway on our journey.

But that moment – I’ll hold onto that for a long time.  Who knows if we’ll get one of those again.

That’s the best gift I could’ve asked for this season.

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