The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year in the US, which means it's a pretty miserable day to get anywhere. Mother Nature usually chooses this date to unleash a fabulous winter storm that messes up flights for at least half the country and adds extra fun stress for drivers. Everyone is either on the road or trying to cram their butts on an airplane. By the time everyone actually gets to their destination, they're just thankful to have survived their trip. I guess that means the holiday is properly appreciated, right?
Until last year, I spent every single Thanksgiving of my life trying to get somewhere far away. As a kid, my parents and I would jump in the car with tons of food and drive 4.5 hours to my grandmother's house. After I finished college and got the hell out of dodge, I'd still fly back for the big gathering that was still held at my grandmother's house.
The travel hell of flying back started long before the chill in the air set in. Somewhere around the July timeframe, I'd start looking for my flight back to her neck of the woods. No matter how early I purchased, the flights were always disgustingly expensive. Seriously, I could have gone to Paris for Thanksgiving cheaper than I could go to Podunk, Alabama. And believe me, it was tempting. But Thanksgiving was one of the few occasions where the whole family would gather together, so that made it worth the cost.
So I'd leave work a couple of hours early and make my way to the airport. Flights were delayed. Airlines would overbook and ask for volunteers to take a later flight (good luck getting someone to do that the night before Thanksgiving, geniuses). There wasn't a single open seat at the airport bar. McDonald's coffee machine was broken. I ended up on a flight next to someone who smelled/snored/thought I actually cared about minute details of their children's lives. I would actually be impressed when I'd make it to my destination without being stuck overnight in Atlanta.
But this year and last year, I didn't get on a plane. I didn't take a long road trip. I stayed local. And it was wonderful. I spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch in sweatpants watching football on TV. I had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with friends that involved stuffing our faces, drinking wine, and playing Cards Against Humanity. I was thankful for all of it. And I was thankful that for once, I actually chose not to travel.