Getting there for the holidays

I’d like to meet the person who said, “Getting there is half the fun,” to ask him if he ever traveled with children. It’s that time of year when families will be setting out to visit grandparents in some faraway place.

Our last car trip started out well, until from the back seat I heard, “I don’t feel good.”

My wife turned around to see what was wrong. “What’s that right beside you?”

“This?” asked the boy.

I heard the crumple of plastic. “Did you eat the whole bag of chips already?” my wife inquired. “That was supposed to be for everyone for the whole day. It’s not even nine o’clock yet. No wonder you’re sick.”

“Do I need to pull over?” I asked, realizing the only thing worse than having to stop before we got to the Indiana state line might be not stopping before we got to the Indiana state line. Our hotel reservations were in Nebraska. This was shaping up to be a long day.

“I don’t think I’ll puke.”

“Just give me some warning if you think you will.”

This was on our trip for summer vacation. One of the perks of being a priest is you don’t have Christmas car trips. No one asks if I’m going anywhere for Christmas.

When I was growing up, we frequently drove from Colorado to North Central Minnesota. It was about a thousand-mile drive back in the days when the speed limit was 55 miles per hour. It was probably little more than 90 miles when my parents heard a voice from the back seat ask,“How much farther do we have to go?”

I tried not to ask this too early, because for some reason unfathomable to my young mind, it irritated my parents.

“Why don’t you take a nap,” my mother would answer. “The trip will go quicker that way.”

I tried to take a nap. I couldn’t, so I just pretended to sleep for what seemed like hours. Then, I would stretch, pretending to wake up from a long slumber and ask again, “How much father?”

“Stop asking,” my father would say, “we’ve barely started.”

I would wait for what seemed like a few more hours, in reality, probably about five minutes, then ask, “How far have we gone?”

“I told you to stop asking,” my father said, with a little irritation.

“You told me not to ask how much farther. I didn’t ask how much farther. I asked how far we’ve gone.”

In my mind, there was a very clear distinction between these two questions. My father’s sigh indicated he did not agree.

Getting there might not be half the fun, but when we got there, we had some of the most memorable times of my childhood. If you have to set off across the country with your children over the holidays, hide the chips, and remember that in their minds, “How far is it?” and “How far have we gone?” are two very different questions.

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 8, Issue 23, Posted 9:35 AM, 11.29.2016